Shanghai steals London's crown as top travel hub in the world

Oliver Gill
·2-min read

London has lost its crown as the world's most important travel hub to Shanghai, as a clutch of Chinese cities jumped to the top of global rankings.

The UK capital plummted to eighth place in the air connectivity ladder, having occupied top spot this time last year. 

With a 67pc decline in connectivity, London has suffered harder from the fallout of Covid than other large cities. 

It now trails Beijing, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenzhen as well as Chicago and Los Angeles in the rankings, compiled by airline trade body IATA.

The data will come as a fresh blow to London, historically seen at the centre of global travel.

Last month Heathrow airport was overtaken by Paris Charles de Gaulle as Europe's busiest airport for the first time as bosses criticised the UK Government for failing to introduce a testing regime to mitigate or even negate the need for quarantines.

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: "European countries have been much quicker at implementing testing regimes to get their aviation sectors moving again and now we’re seeing the consequences."

Earlier this week ministers announced the introduction of a "test and release" system from the middle of December that would cut the length of time that arrivals to the UK from "red" countries need to isolate from 14 to five days. 

IATA’s Sebastian Mikosz said: "The dramatic shift in the connectivity rankings demonstrates the scale at which the world's connectivity has been reordered 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."

Separately, budget airline easyJet said it would axe a quarter of its Italian-based fleet as it continues to struggle with the economic impact of the pandemic. 

EasyJet's manager for Italy called for a  "a firm intervention" from prime minister Giuseppe Conte to protect the aviation sector.