The “devastating impact” on international airline connectivity caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has been outlined by Iata.

London, the world’s number one most connected city in September 2019, has suffered 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 dropped out of the top ten.

Cities with large numbers of domestic connections now dominate, showing the extent to which international connectivity has been shut down.

Europe has seen a 93% collapse in connectivity. European countries saw significant declines across most markets, although Russian connectivity has held up better than Western European countries, according to latest Iata data.

The details were issued in the week that that association revealed it is in the final development phase of a digital health pass designed to support the safe reopening of borders.

Iata and British Airways, Aer Lingus, Aiberia and Vueling owner International Airlines Group have been working together in the development of the solution.

They will undertake a trial “to demonstrate that this platform combined with Covid-19 testing can reopen international travel and replace quarantine”.

IATA’s 76th annual general meeting called on governments to safely re-open borders using testing.

External relations senior vice president Sebastian Mikosz 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.

“But 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 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.”

He added: “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.

“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.”

Iata also called on governments to support the development of sustainable aviation fuel as a “critical step” to achieving a target to cut net emissions to half 2005 levels by 2050.

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