Shanghai rises to become world's most connected city amid Covid-19

According to the Chinese tourism ministry, air travel within China has broadly recovered and during its Golden Week holiday season 425 million people travelled around the country, reported the BBC
Shanghai has dethroned London to become the world's most connected city as the coronavirus shakes up international travel.

London has seen a 67 per cent decline in connectivity via air travel, according to The International Air Transport Association (IATA). By September 2020, it had fallen to eighth spot. 

Shanghai has risen up the ranks with the top four most connected cities all in China—Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu. 

Elsewhere in Asia Pacific, several key hubs have exited the top 10 most connected cities, with connectivity in Tokyo falling 65 per cent, Seoul down 69 per cent and Bangkok and Hong Kong both down 81 per cent.

The pandemic has “undone a century of progress” for connectivity between cities, says IATA. “The dramatic shift in the connectivity rankings demonstrates the scale at which the world’s connectivity has been re-ordered over the last months. There are no winners, just some players that suffered fewer injuries. In a short period of 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 Sebastian Mikosz, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Member External Relations. 

According to the Chinese tourism ministry, air travel within China has broadly recovered and during its Golden Week holiday season 425 million people travelled around the country, reported the BBC.

China has also been opening up travel corridors and discussing quarantine-free travel agreements with many countries including Japan and Singapore.

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. 

IATA’s air connectivity index measures how well connected a country’s cities are to other cities around the world, which is critical for trade, tourism, investment and other economic flows.

Africa and Europe suffered a 93 per cent decline in connectivity. Middle East countries saw connectivity decline by 88 per cent. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the growth in air connectivity was a global success story. Over the last two decades the number of cities directly linked by air (city-pair connections) more than doubled while over the same period, air travel costs fell by around half.

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