B1 Intermediate US 335 Folder Collection
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This is what the skies looked like in March
And this was one month later
When passenger numbers were a staggering...
...94% lower than the previous year...
...thanks to the covid-19 pandemic
Business is now starting to pick up
But travel is becoming increasingly localised and complicated
This world of quite easy travel and relatively free movement...
...has evaporated almost overnight
This will have consequences far beyond cancelled holiday bookings
It could exacerbate existing inequalities...
...create economic hardship...
...and disrupt the workings of the globalised world
The tourism industry is enormous
Every year, international holiday-makers spend $1.6trn
That's more than Spain's GDP
Or at least they did, before the coronavirus pandemic
The CDC just told everyone...
...do not travel
Postpone or cancel all non-essential travel
In April 2020 planes carried just 31m passengers around the world
The sort of passenger levels last seen in the late 1970s
In April this year, 200,000 passengers...
...went through Heathrow Airport in London...
...which is fewer than would go through on any single day in a normal month
IATA, the airline trade body...
...has said flights will not return to pre-pandemic levels for several years
In China, flights are now just 21% below normal levels...
...while in America, air traffic began to pick up in May...
...but remains 57% below normal
And in much of Europe, flight numbers are still around 75% lower...
...than the same time last year
And while passenger numbers are creeping up...
...some areas, like business travel, may never recover
After the last financial crisis the number of overseas business trips...
...taken per person in the UK fell by a third and never picked up
Whereas leisure travel did, eventually, climb back to pre-crisis levels
Were the same thing to happen again...
...it could have a significant impact on airline profits
Business travellers actually subsidise leisure travellers
Your £250 transatlantic fare in the back of the plane...
...is possible because somebody at the front of the plane...
...is paying £800 or £1,500
Airlines are already struggling
Virgin Atlantic has annouced plans to cut more than 3,000 jobs in the UK
Air Canada lost more than $1bn in the first quarter
In March IATA warned that without government aid...
...just 30 of the world's 700 or so airlines would make it through the pandemic
The airlines that survive...
...will determine the competition and prices on certain routes
Some airlines are in pretty good financial shape
Within Europe there remains a lot of competition
Transatlantic flights, there is still plenty of competition
But on routes where there is much thinner competition, prices will go up
There's no doubt about that
For the well-off, the price increases may be an annoyance
But they could also have a significant impact on global mobility
As lower-income travellers may find themselves priced out of the skies
What happens with airfares and with the prices of flights...
...affects not just summer holidays
Migrants have parents or spouses in one country and work in another
And for all of these people, it is quite important that...
...they continue to be able to go home
In June, 189 countries had imposed some form of travel restriction
Ranging from measures like quarantine, to border closures
And governments are desperate to open up travel as quickly as possible
The government is to make it easier for British holiday-makers...
...to travel to much of Europe this summer
Though these arrangements may help tourists...
...they could also create an increasingly inequitable system
The British government is working to allow Brits to go off on holiday...
...to, say, Spain or France and come back without the need for quarantine
But that doesn't take into account the fact that...
...someone may have a partner in America...
...parents in Nigeria or siblings in Pakistan
And they won't be able to go see people who are very, very important to them
The risk is that we end up with a very uneven and possibly unfair system
The relatively free movement enjoyed by many tourists...
...is a modern phenomenon...
...that has played an increasingly important role in globalisation...
...and domestic economies
Take China
For around 30 years until the end of the 1970s...
...travel to and from China was heavily restricted
But today China sends more tourists abroad than any other country
And they spend more money
In 2018 Chinese tourists spent over $270bn overseas
Almost double that spent by Americans
And the limitations on travel caused by the pandemic...
...could have a knock-on effect on global co-operation and economic growth
The worry is that these restrictions persist in the long-term...
...and then become entangled in all sorts of other things...
...such as reciprocity, trade negotiations...
...any sort of geopolitical dispute between countries
And so we return to a sort of mid-20th century world...
...of closed borders, lots of restrictions and paperwork...
...and just less interchange between countries
Faced with an ever-changing array of travel restrictions...
...many travellers are looking closer to home for their holidays
In May, 80% of total reservations on Airbnb were made domestically
And between January and April...
...foreign searches for summer holiday accommodation in Spain...
...fell by as much as 94%
The rise in localised travel could be good news...
...for the environment
In 2018 carbon-dioxide emissions from commercial flights...
...accounted for 2.4% of global fossil-fuel emissions
The answer to this quandary is not to stop people from flying
Rather, it's to make planes more efficient and...
...to focus on innovation in the industry
The pandemic has accelerated the shift towards efficiency
So, some older planes are being taken out of the sky
The covid-19 pandemic will dramatically affect...
...the way in which people move around the world
But rather than driving economic growth...
...as the travel industry has in the past...
...new restrictions could affect globalisation...
...sowing division and increasing inequality
My name is Leo Mirani
I'm a correspondent on the Britain desk at The Economist
And if you'd like to read more about the impact that covid-19...
...is having on international travel, click the link opposite
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Covid-19: why travel will never be the same | The Economist

335 Folder Collection
李柏毅 published on July 14, 2020
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