2020 was an unquestionably brutal year for the transportation sector.
2020 was a brutal year for the mobility/transportation sector. When a pandemic strikes whose main means of transmission involves personal interaction, there was no way the transportation industry would come out unscathed.
With 2021 literally a stone's throw away, we want to look back on some notable stories from the sector that we covered this year.
Here are 5 important mobility stories from 2020 that you should read before the turn of the year.
1. The UAE is positioning itself as a major player in the space industry - October 2020
Before we delve into the doom and gloom of COVID-19 and its disastrous impact on the sector, let's look at an industry moonshot first (pun unintended).
With the UAE having sent its first man to space last year, and with the Hope Probe on its way to Mars (having launched this year), the country is showing that it is completely dedicated to its growing role in space economy and travel.
In fact, a whitepaper released In September by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry revealed that the space industry could become one of the UAE’s most promising sectors and a key pillar of economic growth over the next 50 years.
As for its upcoming plans, the UAE's Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) plans to send the first Arab mission with Emirati astronauts to the moon by 2024, as part of MBRSC's 2021-2031 strategy.
2. Latest research from WTTC shows a 50% increase in jobs at risk in Travel and Tourism - March 2020
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) released in March, around the time when COVID-19 took a firm hold of the world, revealed some troubling statistics.
One of these was that up to 75 million jobs were at immediate risk in global Travel & Tourism due to the coronavirus pandemic (this was upped to 197 million in June, but later readjusted to 121 million). Additionally, the research showed that the damage to the sector would result in a GDP loss to the world economy of up to $2.1 trillion during the year.
The problem was that this study was just one of many like it, all of which indicated that the travel and tourism sector was not going to have a good time in 2020.
3. How can the travel and tourism sector recover from COVID-19? - November 2020
By November, after little had been done to remedy the sector's woes, a report by consulting firm Oliver Wyman and WTTC, titled To Recovery and Beyond: The Future of Travel and Tourism In The Wake Of COVID-19, noted that a globally coordinated approach is needed for the travel and tourism sector to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. This fell in in line with what Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths said a month prior.
Additionally, WTTC has adjusted its June guidance regarding the number of jobs that will be lost in the sector (previously 197 million), reducing the number to an estimated 121 million jobs. It also said that $3.4 trillion in global GDP could be lost now that 90% of the global population are adjusting to life under travel restrictions.
According to the report, four macro-trends will lead the way through recovery and beyond. Follow the link above for all the details.
4. After 20 months, the FAA has finally lifted the Boeing 737 grounding order - November 2020
In November, Boeing finally breathed a sigh of relief. After its plane, the Boeing 737 MAX, was involved in two deadly crashes, which saw 346 people lose their lives, the jet was grounded for nearly two years.
In November, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) removed the grounding order it has had in place since March 13th, 2019, more than 20 months ago. However, the plane would not be returning to the air immediately.
While there were hopes the jet would eventually return to the skies in late 2019, this never came to pass. Given that it is Boeing's most popular plane, the company said the grounding cost it more than $20 billion.
With the grounding finally lifted, and the 737 MAX being flown commercially for the first time in 20 months this week, Boeing is looking to finally close this troubling chapter of its history.
5. Uber is giving up on developing its own self-driving vehicles
This month, Uber revealed that it would be giving up on an effort it has invested 5 years and over $1 billion into. The company, which was developing its own self-driving technology through its subsidiary Advanced Technologies Group (ATG), is now selling this unit to Aurora Technologies, an Amazon-backed startup that develops sensors and software for autonomous vehicles.
The deal is valued at $4 billion, which Reuters said at the time is "disappointing" given that the company was worth $7.25 billion last year . However, Uber is not completely bailing out on its self-driving dream, as the ride-hailing company will be investing $400 million into Aurora, giving it a 26% stake. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is also joining the startup's Board.