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Map of Europe dispalying the top 10 routes

Opportunity to travel in a more sustainable way

Floris de Haan and Susan Vermeulen

Erasmus Centre for Urban, Port and Transport Economics (UPT), Erasmus University Rotterdam (The Netherlands)

Since March 2020, the European airline industry has been heavily challenged. According to the IATA the demand in Europe has dropped over 70% compared to 2019 and the current losses for 2020 are estimated at $26.9 billion. According to IATA Chair, Alexandre de Juniac, the financial support of government was crucial to prevent several bankruptcies. IATA expects European airlines to have highrer revenues at the end of 2021 in the scenario of a widespread available vaccine.

European airlines rely heavily on international markets for revenue since there is tough competition on the short-haul European markets. According to Air France-KLM’s annual reports, in 2018 Air France suffered a € 189 million loss in the domestic network, after which it was decided to reduce capacity on domestic flights by 15% by the end of 2021. In the Lufthansa annual report of 2019, yields fell by 4.4% mainly due to the tough competition in the Germany and Austria markets. Lufthansa felt the intense competition and over-capacity on the short-haul European routes as well.

During the first months of the pandemic, the European Commission decided that airlines no longer must use 80% of their slots to secure slots up. Accordingly, airlines do not have to fly with almost empty aircrafts just to conserve their slots. This decision has been extended up to March 2021. But what to do with the slot release when networks are being reinstated?

Looking at the top 10 aviation markets between cities in Europe with the highest number of passengers in 2018, we observe Map of Europe dispalying the top 10 routesa lot of domestic movements.  There are only 2 intra-EU routes, while 8 out of 10 routes serve domestic markets. A train journey is a realistic option for 6 out of 10 flight routes. A realistic option means that the average duration of a train journey does not exceed 1.5 times the flight. The Madrid – Barcelona route is still heavily served by plane (6,758 daily passengers on average), while the train connection is faster or comparable to the plane.

The top two routes are both in France, the number one being the Paris – Toulouse route. In 2018, about 60 flights a day were operated on this route compared to 23 train connections.

Suppose the capacity of a train is about 375 people, while that of a plane it is about 180 people. This indicates that there is a total capacity for 19,425 people on daily bases to travel between Paris and Toulouse by air or rail. But how many people normally travel daily between Paris and Toulouse?

Estimates show that, excluding car, 14,000 people travel daily between Paris and Toulouse. The load factor of an aircraft on this route is about 80% and that of a French TGV train around 67%. About 28% of the total capacity was unused in 2018 and for the time being there is enough space to travel more by train and less by plane. Another example is the Berlin-Frankfurt route. It has an estimated capacity of 17,475 travelers, while only an estimated 12,000 people travel daily between the two cities (excluding motorists). This implies an underutilization of 31%. The load factor of an aircraft is about 75% on this route and for DB long-distance trains around 55%.

According to the basics of demand and supply, at perfect competition an equilibrium will be set, and overcapacity will disappear. However, Air France has lost about € 717 million on domestic routes since 2013 suggesting that an equilibrium has never been reached.

If countries cannot manage to reduce the high number of passengers and capacity on domestic air markets themselves, how should this be executed in a European context? In any case, let the current tumble as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak could be a turning point in how EU member states deal with domestic and intra-European air traffic. Let Ursula von Leyen and Frans Timmermans return airport slots, which are now protected, only to those flights that serve markets for which the train is not a realistic alternative. Take this opportunity an give the train a prominent role in the future of Europe.

 

 

 

A summary of this article was published in Het Financieel Dagblad 24th of May 2020.

 

SMARTDEST, una risposta all’esclusione sociale nelle città turistiche

Negli ultimi anni la crescente penetrazione del turismo e di altre forme di mobilities come studenti fuorisede e internazionali, lavoratori stagionali, digital nomads,  nella vita quotidiana delle città ha iniziato a produrre diverse forme di conflitti, tensioni e paradossi:  l’aumento del costo della vita e la carenza di alloggi, la congestione dei servizi e degli spazi pubblici, la crescente precarietà del lavoro, la trasformazione delle identità dei luoghi. Ciò che le comunità residenti nelle città più visitate d’Europa un tempo consideravano una gradita fonte di ricchezza e occupazione, nonché un punto di orgoglio, è oggi considerato una minaccia.

L’obiettivo di SMARTDEST è quello di contribuire alla definizione di un’agenda politica per le città che consideri la mobilità del turismo e che faccia emergere il potenziale dell’innovazione sociale derivante dal coinvolgimento dei cittadini al fine di far nascere comunità più resilienti.

Può leggere l’articolo integrale al seguente link:

https://poliflash.polito.it/ricerca_e_innovazione/smartdest_una_risposta_all_esclusione_sociale_nelle_citta_turistiche

Which concepts are linked to the smart city theme? Results based on a bibliometric analysis

by Silvia Blasi and Andrea Ganzaroli, SMARTDEST team – Milan University

This study applies bibliometric analysis for conducting a systematic literature review that enable to map the intellectual structure of the smart city.

We performed a search on the Scopus database, which is one of the most important instruments for collecting systematic information on global scientific literature, especially for mapping an emergent field of research, since it does not include only ISI journals. We preferred to use Scopus instead of WOS (Web of Science) or Google Scholar, because the former includes a more restricted number of journals, with a smaller coverage of the social sciences field, and the latter includes also non-peered review articles and redundant information, making difficult to ensure data quality. Data are analyzed through bibliometrix, an R-tool used to do comprehensive science mapping analysis, which was written by Aria and Cuccurullo (2017). The bibliometrix R-package (http://www.bibliometrix.org) provides a set of tools for quantitative research in bibliometrics and scientometrics.

We identified the articles focused on topics related to the smart cities by performing an advanced search on all the subject categories included in the Scopus database. Following Zheng, Yuan, Zhu, Zhang, & Shao, (2020), we performed a search using as keywords [(“smart* cit*”) OR (“smartcit*”) OR (smart sustainable cit*) OR (“smart communit*”) OR (“intelligent cit*”)] in the title and keywords in Scopus and we considered only English document. Following this procedure, we obtained 1966 documents.

In the picture we can see the co-occurrence networks. Co-occurrence networks are the collective interconnection of terms based on their paired presence within a specified unit of text. Networks are generated by connecting pairs of terms using a set of criteria defining co-occurrence. Looking at figure we can see that the terms are distributed among several clusters. The green, turquoise and orange clusters has formed around the Internet of Things (IoT) and its practical applications in the context of a smart city. This finding confirms our hypothesis that the IoT is to some extent, a “core” term or technological core for a smart city. The term “smart city” itself is more within political and media discourse. From a technological perspective, the IoT is a global infrastructure for the information society that provides the ability for more complex services by connecting (physical and virtual) things to each other based on the existing and developing ICTs. Big data (green cluster) are also a key technology for a smart city. Red cluster contains concepts such as “innovation”, “urbanization”, “infrastructure”, “policy making”. While the green, turquoise and orange clusters tend to spotlight the technological sides of a smart city, the red ones is focused on its organizational and policy issues. The meaning of smartness in the urban or metropolitan context not only indicates utilizing cutting-edge of information and communication technologies (ICTs), but also importantly management and policy concerns. The blue cluster has at its centre the word “smart city” that is linked with “sustainable development”.

For more information you can see the entire report at the following link:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/344431217_The_spatial_articulation_and_local_effects_of_tourism_and_associated_mobilities

Sustainable aviation pathways after Covid19

By Alejandro González, URV phd researcher

Aeromobilities during Covid-19 have been highly disrupted due to the unprecedented global lockdown and the subsequent border restrictions, affecting the entire value chain of travel and tourism, with dramatic impacts on local economies that are most dependent on the visitor economy.  Yet, the desirability that air travel returns to the pre-pandemic trends has been critically questioned by one of the major authors in the field of sustainability transitions and mobilities, Stefan Gössling of the Western Norway Research Institute. In his newly published paper, Risks, resilience, and pathways to sustainable aviation: A COVID-19 perspective (Journal of Air Transport Management, 89), he questions if the volume growth model championed by the aviation industry and its travel and tourism allies ought to be replaced with a slimmed air transport system, less vulnerable to global shocks and more accountable for its environmental impacts. This alternative would disrupt the “back to business as usual” ambitions of the tourism industry, as air transport moves the 58% of international tourism arrivals but would represent a decisive breakthrough towards a low-carbon transition of tourism mobilities.

Billions of US$ have been allocated to recovery plans for airlines and airports (T&E, Greenpeace & Carbon Market Watch, 2020), with hopes to expediently return to business-as-usual (ICAO, 2020). At the end of May 2020, the total volume of State aid may have exceeded US$100 billion, i.e. almost half of what global airlines reported as their net result over nine years, i.e. for the entire period 2010–2018 (US$196.9 billion; IEA, 2019).

Figure 1: EUROCONTROL Draft Traffic Scenarios – 14 September 2020 (base year 2019/2020). Retrieved from https://www.eurocontrol.int/covid19

However, Gössling highlights that this crisis is a reminder of long-standing, interrelated and unresolved problems characterizing the global air transport system. Air travel is a major contributor to climate change (an estimate of 5% global warming, IEA 2019), and a vector of pathogen distribution, within very short timeframes (Browne, St-Onge Ahmad, Beck & Nguyen-Van-Tam, 2016). Besides, the sector’s small and often negative profit margins (Doganis, 2005; Gössling and Higham, 2020; IATA, 2019a,b) are highly dependent of State aids (Doganis, 2005; Gössling et al., 2017). Recent research also hints at adversely distributive features of air travel: only a small proportion of the world population participates in international aviation. So, cheap flight could hardly be considered a means of social empowerment, while carbon inequality has big implications to climate justice.

Therefore, how should the return of aviation be? IATA (2020) expects that the recovery after COVID-19 will take some time, but a return to business-as-usual is nevertheless expected. Conversely, an alternative scenario towards a desirable and resilient aviation system, the baseline is that air transport capacity is diminished, risks and vulnerabilities are taken into account, and the cost is integrated into pricing plans and weighed against short-term benefits.

Venice Tourism May Never Be the Same. It Could Be Better.

Can the pandemic be an opportunity to rethink tourism? This article published in “The New York Times” discusses the Venetian case. In particular, it reflects on how the crisis can be an opportunity to make future travel to and in cities more sustainable and to develop an economy that does not rotate entirely around tourism.

Go to the article: link

‘Things have to change’: tourism businesses look to a greener future

While tourism destinations are looking forward to exit the lockdown and receive again national and foreign tourists, it is important to look at this post-COVID situation as a possibility for cities to redesign their tourism model in a more sustainable manner, environmentally and socially.

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2020/may/28/things-had-to-change-tourism-businesses-look-to-a-greener-future

What does Covid-19 mean for people working in the gig economy?

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the plight of the gig economy workforce into sharp focus. Some of this workforce is now busier than ever, delivering take-away food and online shopping to communities in lockdown. Others have been left high and dry by the collapse of travel which has frozen all activity for Airbnb, ride operators and similar providers. The contractual status of gig workers is such that they do not benefit from any of the emergency schemes introduced by governments such as furloughing or support for the self-employed which is generally linked to income declared for tax purposes over an extended period. Gig economy workers are among the most precarious of the precariat and the global pandemic has brought their plight onto the agenda of the media and, hopefully, governments.

https://www.rte.ie/news/business/2020/0522/1140094-covid-19-and-its-impact-on-the-gig-economy/

COVID: tourism immobilisation and its social consequences

By Antonio Paolo Russo, University Rovira i Virgili, SMARTDEST coordinator
May 2020

The SMARTDEST project tackles the relation between tourism mobilities and the production of social exclusion in cities, with an ambition to contribute to the definition of a policy agenda for cities that takes tourism mobilities seriously, and that brings out the potential of social innovation from citizen engagement for more resilient communities.

While drafting the project proposal and then setting it in motion, the obvious concern of this consortium was the wide array of disruptions that are produced in a context of relentless growth of tourism activity in cities, and its increasing penetration in the citizens’ everyday. We therefore intended to situate our research in the rising debate on ‘overtourism’ and its effects, broadening its conceptual approach and empirical developments to the constellation of mobilities, communities and spaces that are enmeshed to contemporary travel and tourism in complex ways.

Yet, alas, in the verge of a few weeks the context we are studying has changed radically, in ways that could not be remotely imagined before.

The current COVID-19 pandemic, the subsequent measures of confinement to which a substantial part of the world population is subject, the temporary restructuring of work and family routines, and the foreseeable economic slump which will follow from the shock by ‘immobilisation’ of the global economy, present us with a very different future scenario than that of overcrowded streets, low-paid hotel workers and vulnerable families evicted to make space for short-term tourism rentals.

Today, the great societal (and academic) debate in relation to mobilities is whether we will ever go ‘back to normal’, if tourism as we knew it has a future, how to contain the social costs of this slump, and whether it is possible to effect a rapid transition towards ‘slower’, less mobility-dependent forms of economic and social organisation which are more resilient to the uncertain future that comes ahead. For the EU, this may mean that the policy concern for overtourism that had taken foot in the past years is likely to be rapidly overcome by the imperative of economic recovery.

Project to throw in the dustbin? Bad luck? Give back the EU money?

By all means, no. There are at least two main reasons why we consider that actually our research approach is the most adequate to tackle these questions, and offer a sound scientific contribution to the stage of recovery or adaptation to this new scenario.

The first reason stands in our epistemological approach. Moving from the baseline of the ‘mobilities paradigm’, and examining the relationships between tourism-induced urban transformations and the production of social exclusion from this position, allows us not just to analyse the pressure of the visitor economy and its social effects, but to engage with a much more ambitious program of research that takes in and connects:

  • human mobility as an expression of democratic freedom, and leisure as a dimension of urban life that is inextricable from many others;
  • the multiple and multiscale interconnections between the different manifestations of human mobility (e.g. tourism, migrations, commuting, leisurely walk, etc) and between these and the physical spaces that these contribute to produce and contest;
  • the juxtaposition and interrelations of the highly mobile and the ‘less mobile’ or immobilised;
  • the agencies, socio-technological regimes, ideologies and discourses that frame such relationships and promote or mitigate social exclusion.

In other words, if tourism ­– its practices and embodiments, the multiple flows of things, technologies, money and imageries that goes with it, and the marginalisation of sizeable sectors of the society from the benefits of a thriving visitor economy – could have been the context of development of the project until January 2020, the same conceptual concerns, the same empirical developments, and the same ambitions to find informed solutions to social exclusion apply in a non- or less-tourist world.

The current scenario, with the streets of tourist cities temporarily empty, thousands at risk of losing their job, and clean air, is one in which paradoxically social breeches are reproduced and reversed – those who can, comply with the new social norms of ‘good citizen’ and stay safely at home, while others are stuck with dangerously mobile jobs, uncomfortable dwellings, and dependency from the proximity with others. Even when this confinement scenario is relaxed, a new ‘regime of post-COVID mobility’ might be fathomed in which mobilities are promoted, regulated, and reified in vastly uneven ways.

Said this, it is still important to look back and have a structured, nuanced understanding of how the acceleration of tourism and related mobilities in the pre-COVID world may have widened social breeches, and which agencies and power coalitions would have made that possible. We definitely are going to do that. However, SMARTDEST will also look into the present and the future, clarifying how the analytics of mobilities also matters in an ‘immobilised’ world.

And this is precisely our second reason to stay on the ground. Our project foresees engagement with eight case studies of European cities variously interested by tourism-related physical and socioeconomic transformations which represent key challenges for social cohesion. SMARTDEST will not only examine what has gone on in such places until now and in the coming two years, but – as its title states – also aims at contributing to solutions or forms of mitigation to social exclusion that our research will relate to the production of tourist places. In a specific work-package, it will thus convene social actors – among which affected communities, groups at risk of exclusion, grassroots movements – together with economic and political agents to collaboratively design viable strategies by which forms of coping with social exclusion, smart forms of citizen collaboration, as well as small-scale planning innovations can be rescaled to the wider domain of urban policy and may be seen as valuable and implementable within the wider destination ecosystem.

In this light, our project is going to tackle these questions precisely in the stage of recovery (2021-2022), presumably following the current state of emergency. Our case study cities will find themselves in front a ‘recovery dilemma’: going back to normal – and mobilise public and private resources to achieve the recuperation of tourism jobs and economic activity lost in 2020, from which some of them are badly dependent –, or use this breakthrough moment as an opportunity for transition towards a destination environment that is less excluding, more just, more democratic; one that promotes quality of life and shared value over sectorial economic interest, that takes the effects of mobilities (social as well as environmental) seriously, and is prepared to mitigate them.

The temptation to stick to the trodden path will be strong: this is already being hailed, not only by corporate interests but also by policymakers faced with a sudden slump of the economy and employment. However, a return to the pre-COVID conditions – that in many destinations have been at the root of social issues – may not be even an option: as mentioned before, there are high chances that global mobilities and their local manifestations will change, albeit temporarily: ranging from the rights, practicalities and cost of travelling long-haul, to the attractiveness of the most affected destinations, or the effects of physical distancing on the viability of products and attractions.

It has been demonstrated by experience that sustainability transitions focusing on mitigating the impact of tourism mobilities are difficult, as they face lock-ins and pressures of all kinds, though the present scenario may offer a unique opportunity for realignment of societal and corporate interests. Besides, it is also not totally clear what this presupposes in the policy and planning sphere, although certain elements may be envisaged as essential, such a strengthening of the regulation capacity, the dignification and upgrade of work conditions, the concern for gender and intersectional unbalances, the promotion of citizen participation and their innovation capacity, the revision of governance mechanisms. However, whose interests will dominate in the recovery debate, whose rights will be put upfront, and who will be controlling and tapping from the sociotechnical machinery of innovation in mobility, are still moot points – and key discriminants in the effort to achieve more inclusive post-COVID cities.

In this sense, being able to contribute and inform this debate, that will necessarily take place in all the cities we will be studying in our project, is a fundamental challenge for SMARTDEST. Our ambition is that CityLabs will be a key arena where the post-COVID urban future is analysed, designed and shared, and this consortium is already taking steps to make that happen.

The pandemic mobility breach in Barcelona

The pandemic mobility breach in Barcelona
A study of the Catalan newspaper El Periodico, published by journalist and scientific divulgator Michele Catanzaro, using data from the metropolitan Transport Authority of Barcelona, indicates that citizens from the poorest neighbourhoods have been using public transport three times more than the rest of the population during confinement. Low ownership rates of private transport among low-income citizens and impossibility to avoid commuting to jobs are factors cited to explain this trend. However, the map of the most mobile neighbourhoods also features some middle-class tourism-intensive neighbourhoods, whose high mobility rates might be tied to the temporary disappearance of the visitor economy in their neighbourhoods. As higher use of public transport hints at greater exposure to health hazard from contagion, it might be concluded, as indicated by some of the early SMARTDEST assumptions, that the immobilisation of the population (both resident and visiting) may have exclusionary effects as remarkable as those observed in regimes of hyper-mobility.
Access the article of El Periodico (in Spansh): https://www.elperiodico.com/es/sociedad/20200518/el-distanciamiento-va-por-barrios-7963976

Cycling and walking for safe spaces after lockdown in cities, a “new normality”?

by Alejandro González, GRATET-URV. May 2020

Cities are planning mobility transitions for encouraging cyclists and pedestrians to travel while respecting social distancing.

The capital of Lombardy, the region most hit by Covid-19 in Italy[1] and among the most polluted regions in Europe, plans for a climate-friendly way out of the crisis. This initiative follows other big cities like Paris[2], London[3] or Berlin[4], which are taking advantage of this global crisis in the hope of encouraging cycling and walking to transition to a “new normality” safely. As alternatives to a doctrine shock[5], policies oriented to mobility justice could provide a roadmap for other cities.

Milan[6] has announced that 35km (22 miles) of streets will be transformed over the summer, with a rapid, experimental citywide expansion of cycling and walking space to protect residents as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. The City Council wants to avoid the increase of pollution in the city during the stage of recovery, in which restrictions to avoid conglomerations in public transport are going to be implemented.

An unjust mobility system may well be related with the pandemic. Intercontinental transport is noted to have directly caused a rapid and global diffusion of the virus, that has subsequently provoked its collapse[7]. But also, the high carbon automobility system may be one of the most important contributors to fatality[8]. Other estimations suggest that more lives were saved due to the reduction in air pollution than those terminated by the virus[9]. Therefore, reducing polluting cars from streets may offer more chances to combat new (corona)virus outbreaks in cities and to make them more resilient.

However, far from being a new normality, Milan was also announced the suspension of the LEZs of the city until 31st of May[10]. Allowing all vehicles to enter, to circulate on public transport preferential lanes and all parking spaces are free for all[11]. Another side of the coin, the coronavirus might have prepared scenarios for shocking and transition. Which one will impose? Will governments take from granted the social de-escalation? Will climate and health prioritise come up on top? A critical analysis is deserved during next months and years to unmask the politics of mobility justice and virus.

[1] BBC (2020 March 22) Coronavirus: Lombardía, la región más golpeada de Italia anuncia medidas más estrictas para frenar el avance del covid-19 Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-internacional-51994635
[2] Carlton, R. (2020 April 22) Paris to Create 650 Kilometers Of Post-Lockdown Cycleways. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/carltonreid/2020/04/22/paris-to-create-650-kilometers-of-pop-up-corona-cycleways-for-post-lockdown-travel/#6652f1ae54d4
[3] Harrabin, R. (2020 April 20). Coronavirus: Banning cars made easier to aid social distancing. BBC. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-52353942.
[4] Versti, L. (2020 March 27) Neuer temporärer Radweg am Kurfurstendamm. Berliner Morgen Post. Retrieved from https://www.morgenpost.de/bezirke/im-westen-berlins/article228794619/Neuer-temporaerer-Radweg-am-Kurfuerstendamm.html
[5] Moreno, D. (2020 April 1) Naomi Klein: “La gente habla sobre cuándo se volverá a la normalidad, pero la normalidad era la crisis”. El Salto. Retrieved from https://www.elsaltodiario.com/coronavirus/entrevista-naomi-klein-gente-habla-volver-normalidad-crisis-doctrina-shock
[6] Laker, L. (2020 April 21). Milan announces ambitious scheme to reduce car use after lockdown. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/21/milan-seeks-to-prevent-post-crisis-return-of-traffic-pollution?fbclid=IwAR0Or0kro67QH_5dkHs4ldazmkvyJtMkQTZOCjdrlqSJa_gvfAio62ICsJA
[7] Pierce, B. (2020) Covid-19: wider economic impact from air transport collapse. IATA. Retrieved from https://www.iata.org/en/iata-repository/publications/economic-reports/covid-19-wider-economic-impact-from-air-transport-collapse/
[8] Carrington, D. (2020 April 20) Air pollution may be ‘key contributor’ to Covid-19 deaths – study. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/20/air-pollution-may-be-key-contributor-to-covid-19-deaths-study
[9] McMahon, J. (2020 Mar 16) Study: Coronavirus Lockdown Likely Saved 77,000 Lives In China Just By Reducing Pollution. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2020/03/16/coronavirus-lockdown-may-have-saved-77000-lives-in-china-just-from-pollution-reduction/#2c8cf3c534fe
[10] Interview with Cittadini per l’Aira by email on 08/05/2020 by the author
[11] Idem.