COVID-19 could accelerate a global shift from planes to trains

Photo of a high-speed train

A long-term shift in attitudes around climate change, travel and work triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic could serve to significantly curb aviation growth in the next decade, according to analysts at Swiss bank UBS.

Research released last week by the financial giant forecasts global air travel growth for the decade between 2018 and 2028 could shrink 10 percent compared to expectations prior to the coronavirus outbreak, due in large part to a global acceleration in the shift from planes to high-speed rail.

The shift could slow previous expectations from aviation equipment manufacturers of a 5.1 percent annual growth in air traffic over the next decade to 4.6 percent, it said.

“The COVID-19 outbreak is showing industrialized countries not only what clean air means and how to cope without traveling, but also how healthier populations in a cleaner environment cope better with coronavirus,” the research states. That shift in mindset is set to bolster plans to improve high-speed train availability and further fuel growing concerns around climate impacts, resulting in a slight slowdown in global appetites for air travel, it argues.

The shift is set to be felt most dramatically in Europe, where growth could drop to around 0.1 percent annually — a far cry from the 4.1 percent growth rate expected in 2019 manufacturer forecasts, the report contends. In other major markets, growth also could slow, the report suggests, with growth projections trimmed from 3.2 percent to 1.8 percent in the United States and from 8.1 percent to 6.4 percent in China.

This is an excerpt from an article by Cecilia Keating, originally published on GreenBiz.

Travindy is an independent website featuring news and opinion on all issues to do with tourism and sustainability. Written primarily for an industry audience, our aim is to support the transformation of the sector into one that is regenerative, restorative and fully inclusive.

Related Articles

- Sustainable Tourism Crash Course -spot_img

Useful resources