Africa suffered a 93% decline in connectivity and many aviation markets reliant on tourism, such as South Africa, were particularly severely impacted. Picture: Maria Tyutina/Pexels
Africa suffered a 93% decline in connectivity and many aviation markets reliant on tourism, such as South Africa, were particularly severely impacted. Picture: Maria Tyutina/Pexels

World’s most connected cities see massive decline in air travel, IATA data shows

By Travel Reporter Time of article published Nov 26, 2020

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data revealing that the Covid-19 crisis has had a devastating impact on international connectivity, shaking up the rankings of the world’s most connected cities.

London, the world’s number one most connected city in September 2019, has seen a 67% decline in connectivity. By September 2020, it had fallen to number eight.

Shanghai is now the top ranked city for connectivity with the top four most connected cities all in China — Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu.

·New York (-66% fall in connectivity), Tokyo (-65%), Bangkok (-81%), Hong Kong (-81%) and Seoul (-69%) have all exited the top ten. Africa suffered a 93% decline in connectivity.

Ethiopia managed to buck the trend. During the first peak of the pandemic in April 2020, Ethiopia maintained connections with 88 international destinations. Many aviation markets reliant on tourism, such as South Africa, Egypt and Morocco, were particularly severely impacted.

The study reveals that cities with large numbers of domestic connections now dominate, showing the extent to which international connectivity has been shut down.

Sebastian Mikosz, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Member External Relations, said the dramatic shift in the connectivity rankings demonstrates the scale at which the world’s connectivity has been re-ordered over the last months.

"The important point is that rankings did not shift because of any improvement in connectivity. That declined overall in all markets. The rankings shifted because the scale of the decline was greater for some cities than others.

“There are no winners, just some players that suffered fewer injuries. In a short time, we have undone a century of progress in bringing people together and connecting markets. The message we must take from this study is the urgent need to re-build the global air transport network,” said Mikosz.

IATA’s 76th Annual General Meeting called on governments to safely re-open borders using testing.

“The systematic testing of travellers is the immediate solution to rebuilding the connectivity that we have lost. The technology exists. The guidelines for implementation have been developed. Now we need to implement before the damage to the global air transport network becomes irreparable,” said Mikosz.

Air transport is a major engine of the global economy.

“Governments must realise that there are major consequences for peoples’ lives and livelihoods. At least 46 million jobs supported by air transport are in peril. And the strength of the economic recovery from Covid-19 will be severely compromised without the support of a functioning air transport network,” added Mikosz.

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