Good afternoon, everybody. As Tony said, we have a short presentation just to take you through the highlights of the September passenger and cargo figures. So if we move to the first slide, you can see cargo remains strong, up 9%. Good cargo performance, we continue to see good demand for air cargo. Sea freight is being impacted by port closures and issues in relation to the labor shortages and number of ports. It's impacting a little bit on air cargo as well, but not to the same degree. So the outlook for air cargo continues to be pretty strong with good demand [and] supplies still somewhat constrained. And as we've said before, that's principally because international passenger traffic which you can see on the chart is down 69% versus 2019. International passenger traffic continues to be disrupted. And typically about 45 to 50% of air cargo would travel in the belly hold of these long-haul international passenger aircraft. We've seen a rebound in the domestic passenger figures, down 24% versus 2019.
If we move to the next slide, you can see actually quite a significant range of performance with Russia, up about 29% versus 2019. But Australia down 80%. The US & China, the two big domestic markets; US is by about 12% below 2019 and China 26%. But generally domestic markets are performing well, again reinforcing our view that once the travel restrictions are removed, we do see strong passenger demand.
Variations in the international travel which is interesting; you can see the North-Central America is getting back towards 2019 figures, down 8%. Within Europe is down 44%; Europe to North America down 65%; within Asia's on the floor; there it's effectively flat and down 97% versus 2019. The other two Europe-Asia and Asia to North America down around 87 to 90%. So again, quite a variation, but we are seeing some improvements. And again, this reflects the loosening of restrictions in several countries, which we've witnessed in recent weeks. So positive developments in relation to travel restrictions, still slower than we would like to see and slower than we believe the science would support. But good news reports from CEOs around the world suggest that they're now more optimistic about the recovery in business travel. And, you know, I think there's some evidence to support that optimism based on figures that individual airlines are seeing in recent months. And indeed some airports reporting similar trends as well.
And this really tells the story of the day; it is principally a situation where the travel restrictions continue to dampen demand, but things are heading in the right direction. We've seen some positive announcements in Latin America in recent weeks; Chile opening, Argentina, the same [for] Bolivia; so there's positive trends here but still much slower than we would like to see.
We've shown this graph before, which demonstrated the strong rebound in bookings once it was announced that the US would open to European travelers. And you can see what happened then again when on 15 October, 8 November was confirmed as the date on which it will open. So strong demand for travel into and out of the US to Europe. And again, this is a very positive development. It's happening later in the year than we had expected. If you remember going back earlier this year, we thought that might happen around the start of the third quarter. But it's a positive indication, and certainly, I think it sends a message to other countries who have had their borders closed that it's now time to start reopening and removing restrictions.
Positive trends in terms of bookings. But the simple message is traffic continues to be significantly depressed. And although we are beginning to see a much more positive outlook in terms of travel restrictions, we don't expect to see a sudden rebound; it will take time to recover. Nonetheless, the trends are positive. The tone of the industry at the IATA AGM in October was one of cautious optimism. I think that continues since then, based on the discussions that we've had with industry leaders. So overall, the September figures, slight rebound in passenger traffic and good cargo traffic. So continuing the trends that we had been witnessing: strong domestic performance, international travel recovering and cargo traffic being strong and likely to continue so through the rest of this year and into next year.
Just some general comments: we've seen very positive signs from both the ICAO High Level Conference on COVID-19 and the G20. The declaration that came from the ICAO Conference was positive, very much aligned with the views of IATA. The important thing now is for us to see these nice words translated into action. And we need to see states talking to one another to harmonize their rules; we are seeing some positive developments again in that direction.
As you know, we came out to support the use of the EU DCC -- Digital COVID Certificate. We now see over 50 countries who have adopted the EU digital certificate and more countries talking to the EU. So I think this certainly helps in terms of getting common standards, and a common approach to the reopening of international borders. And with the COP26 in Glasgow, I think the message from the industry has been very loud and very clear. At our AGM, we have committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. I think it is a very significant development by the industry. So we're ready to play our part, we're ready to engage and, in fact, have been talking to several governments to reinforce our message that the industry is committed to achieving net zero by 2050. We now need governments to create the right policy framework to assist the industry in achieving that challenging goal, particularly in relation to the development and deployment of wide scale availability of sustainable aviation fuels. And again, some positive announcements in recent weeks in relation to those. On the other side, less positive with airports and other suppliers, with airport charges continuing to show increases, or desire on the part of airports to significantly increase their charges. We saw Schiphol, who had announced their intention to increase charges by 42% over three years, adjust their target to 37%.
You know my reaction to that was “wow”. This is completely unacceptable. Now is not the time to be significantly increasing charges. And it was interesting. In fact, [at] one of the conferences that I attended recently the ACI, Airports Council International representative for Latin America, made that very statement. He said, now is not the time to be increasing charges. In the interests of recovering lost passenger numbers, I think we have to keep costs under control, to facilitate a strong return to international traffic in particular. And my own experience, having done quite a bit of travel in recent weeks, with the IATA AGM, the ALTA conference in Bogota, that's the Association of Latin American Carriers and a couple of IATA conferences with the Cargo conference in Dublin, and Digital, Data and Retail Conference in Madrid. Fantastic response, great turnout from people; people want to get back meeting face to face again; greater appreciation for the value of these face-to-face interactions and meetings. And we're seeing the same thing repeated by other organizations; all of them seeing positive trends in terms of attendance as in-person events. So we remain cautious about the outlook. But I think it is important to reflect on the positive announcements that have been made in recent weeks, which should facilitate an accelerated improvement in the traffic trends that we are reporting for you today.
- Press release: Air Cargo, up 9.1% in September, Capacity Remains Constrained
- Press release: Moderate Rebound in September Passenger Demand
- Presentation: COVID-19 September 2021 traffic data (pdf).