(Bloomberg) – Before the coronavirus, a decades-long aviation boom spawned a network of nearly 50,000 air routes across the world. In less than a year, the pandemic has wiped almost a third of them off the map.
Border closures, national mobility restrictions and fear of contracting Covid-19 through other passengers have paralyzed commercial travel. As thousands of domestic and international connections disappear completely from airline schedules, the world suddenly stopped shrinking.
The crisis is unleashing a vast social and industrial reformulation that took place during half a century of proliferation of air travel. In the next few years, business trips abroad and vacations will likely mean more stopovers at airports, longer travel times, and perhaps an additional means of transportation. Even when an effective vaccine is found, the economic reality of the recovery could mean that some nonstop flights will be gone forever.
With borders effectively closed from Europe to New Zealand, most of the world’s canceled routes are inevitably cross-border. However, thousands of domestic routes have also been phased out, reflecting the pressure airlines face at home to cut jobs and retire planes to find a cost base that reflects their downsizing.
At the end of January, 47,756 operational routes crossed the world, more than half in the United States, Western Europe and Northeast Asia, according to OAG Aviation Worldwide. As of Nov. 2, there were only 33,416 routes on world timetables, according to the data.
In Hervey Bay, a small resort town on Australia’s east coast, residents regret missing their last direct air connection to Sydney, the country’s main national and international gateway. This flight was one of eight regional routes canceled by Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd. after collapsing in April under a debt of 6.8 billion Australian dollars (US $ 5 billion).
Before the coronavirus, the industry supported 65.5 million jobs, more than half of them indirectly through tourism, and had a global economic impact of $ 2.7 trillion, according to the 2019 Aviation Benefits Report, a study conducted by industry groups, including the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization.
Nota Original:A Third of the World’s Air Routes Have Been Lost Due to Covid
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