/The Places You Can’t Fly To Anymore

The Places You Can’t Fly To Anymore

The pandemic has changed how we fly, dramatically reducing the number of flights around the world. To show how Covid-19 has altered the skies, The Wall Street Journal analyzed flight data from aviation data provider Cirium Core for a 24-hour period—Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. That was a month after the new coronavirus forced Wuhan, China, into lockdown and a week after Italy ordered Europe’s first lockdowns. It was still before other big countries initiated lockdowns and travel bans to slow the spread.

Here is the same 24-hour period a year later, on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. At big airline hubs, such as New York, London, Dubai and Singapore, possible destinations have fallen sharply. Many routes still in operation are serviced by far fewer flights a day.

International routes were down 60%, mostly because of a patchwork of differing travel bans by countries around the world. Even without travel restrictions, passengers remain wary. U.S. domestic routes were down 16%. Here’s a breakdown:

The U.S. shed more routes than anywhere, but that’s because it’s such a bigger aviation market. As a percentage of total routes, Europe took a bigger hit. In the U.K., airlines flew 78% fewer routes. A few small markets, like the Marshall Islands and Syria, didn’t have a single flight in or out on Feb. 26 this year. Meanwhile, Chinese domestic flights were brisk amid that country’s quick recovery.

Number of routes by country

Number of routes by country

Number of routes by country

Number of routes by country

Number of routes by country

You can still get to most international destinations from America’s largest hubs, including New York, though your choice of flights is much smaller. Not so for smaller hubs. Cincinnati’s airport, for instance, no longer offers near-daily flights to Paris.

Traffic with Europe

dropped significantly

U.S. domestic routes

fell just 16%

Routes between the U.S.

and Latin America

held relatively steady

Traffic with Europe

dropped significantly

U.S. domestic routes

fell just 16%

Routes between the U.S.

and Latin America

held relatively steady

Traffic with Europe

dropped significantly

U.S. domestic routes

fell just 16%

Routes between the U.S.

and Latin America

held relatively steady

Traffic with Europe

dropped significantly

U.S. domestic routes

fell just 16%

Routes between U.S.

and Latin America

held relatively steady

Traffic with Europe

dropped significantly

U.S. domestic routes

fell just 16%

Routes between

the U.S. and Latin America

held relatively steady

U.S. domestic routes fell just 16%

Traffic with Europe dropped significantly

Routes between U.S. and Latin America held

relatively steady

U.S. domestic routes fell just 16%

Traffic with Europe dropped significantly

Routes between the U.S. and

Latin America held relatively steady

From the U.S., there were still plenty of routes to Mexico and Latin America. But flying north of the border was much harder. A year ago, there were 13 routes a day between the U.S. and Spain. On Feb. 26 of this year there was just one. Routes to Iceland and New Zealand, popular tourism destinations, disappeared that day.

Number of routes with the U.S., selected destinations

Number of routes with the U.S., selected destinations

Number of routes with the U.S., selected destinations

Number of routes with the U.S.,

selected destinations

Number of routes with the U.S.,

selected destinations

European travel has been significantly affected by a patchwork of national travel bans between neighboring countries. Flights inside Europe fell 73% between the two dates. There were just six flights between Paris and London, for instance, compared with 26 flights last year. London-Dubai, a once-popular route for business and pleasure, was down to just two daily flights, compared with 18 last year. Last February, there were 35 flights between two of Europe’s most important financial and diplomatic hubs—London and Geneva. This year, none.

Flight volume inside

Europe fell 73%

Russian domestic routes

fell just 3.1%

Transatlantic traffic

thinned considerably

Across Africa,

flight volume fell 39%

The two Middle East hubs

saw routes fall 30%,

volume fell more than 50%

Russian domestic

routes fell just 3.1%

Flight volume inside

Europe fell 73%

Transatlantic traffic

thinned considerably

Across Africa,

flight volume fell 39%

The two Middle East hubs

saw routes fall 30%,

volume fell more than 50%

Flight volume inside

Europe fell 73%

Russian domestic routes

fell just 3.1%

Transatlantic traffic

thinned considerably

Across Africa,

flight volume fell 39%

The two Middle East hubs

saw routes fall 30%,

volume fell more than 50%

Flight volume inside

Europe fell 73%

Russian domestic routes

fell just 3.1%

Transatlantic traffic

thinned considerably

Across Africa,

flight volume fell 39%

The two Middle East hubs

saw routes fall 30%,

volume fell more than 50%

Flight volume inside

Europe fell 73%

Russian domestic

routes fell just 3.1%

Transatlantic traffic

thinned considerably

Across Africa,

flight volume fell 39%

The two Middle East hubs

saw routes fall 30%,

volume fell more than 50%

Transatlantic traffic thinned considerably

Flight volume inside Europe fell 73%

Russian domestic routes fell just 3.1%

The two Middle East hubs saw routes fall 30%,

volume fell more than 50%

Across Africa, flight volume fell 39%

Transatlantic traffic thinned considerably

Flight volume inside Europe fell 73%

Russian domestic routes fell just 3.1%

The two Middle East hubs saw routes fall

30%, volume fell more than 50%

Across Africa, flight volume fell 39%

In Asia, international travel fell sharply. Chinese overseas flights were down 73%. Domestic flights, though, were up 124%, marking a strong recovery from that country’s early lockdown. Trying to go to Australia? There were just two routes this year on the day from the U.S., from Los Angeles and San Francisco, compared with 10 last year.

China’s international flight volumes

dropped by 73%, but domestic

flights rose 124%

68% of routes between

China and Japan, popular

with tourists, disappeared

These two regional hubs

both suffered route declines

of between 55% and 65%

95% of routes between

China and Thailand, another

big tourism connection, vanished

68% of routes

between China and

Japan, popular with

tourists, disappeared

China’s international flight

volumes dropped by 73%,

but domestic flights

rose 124%

These two regional hubs

both suffered route declines

of between 55% and 65%

95% of routes between

China and Thailand, another

big tourism connection, vanished

China’s international flight volumes

dropped by 73%, but domestic

flights rose 124%

68% of routes between

China and Japan, popular

with tourists, disappeared

These two regional hubs

both suffered route declines

of between 55% and 65%

95% of routes between

China and Thailand, another

big tourism connection, vanished

68% of routes between

China and Japan, popular

with tourists, disappeared

China’s international flight

volumes dropped by 73%,

but domestic flights

rose 124%

These two regional hubs

both suffered route declines

of between 55% and 65%

95% of routes between

China and Thailand, another

big tourism connection, vanished

China’s international flight

volumes dropped by 73%,

but domestic flights

rose 124%

68% of routes between

China and Japan,

popular with tourists,

disappeared

These two regional hubs

both suffered route declines

of between 55% and 65%

95% of routes between

China and Thailand, another

big tourism connection, vanished

China’s international flight volumes dropped by

73%, but domestic flights rose 124%

68% of routes between China and Japan,

popular with tourists, disappeared

These two regional hubs both suffered

route declines of between 55% and 65%

95% of routes between China and Thailand,

another big tourism connection, vanished

China’s international flight volumes

dropped by 73%, but domestic flights

rose 124%

68% of routes between China and Japan,

popular with tourists, disappeared

These two regional hubs both suffered

route declines of between 55% and 65%

95% of routes between China and Thailand,

another big tourism connection, vanished

Vaccinations are rolling out around the world, giving airline executives hope for a quick return to pre-pandemic days. Most travel experts, however, don’t see that happening until at least next year.

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