Good afternoon everyone. I have a short presentation to take you through the most recent traffic data release for October 2021. If we go to the first slide, once again, you can see that air cargo is performing well, in October it was 9% ahead of October 2019. So, a very good performance; in fact, year to date to the end of October versus the same period in 2019, it's running at 9% ahead on a yearly basis as well. So cargo continues to perform very well. A lot of that comes from additional freighter activity, because as we've mentioned previously, the belly hold activity is still disrupted as a result of the challenges with international travel, particularly on the widebody long-haul, where a lot of restrictions are preventing passenger traffic. But some of those aircraft are operating to carry air cargo. So good performance from the cargo side of the business.

If we look at domestic traffic, the same sort of trend continues there in October, down 22% year to date; it's down 29% versus the same period in 2019. And international, we’re seeing it recover, but it's a slow, slog, really, 65% down in October, year to date down about 79%. So the challenge, there continues to be the problems caused by government restrictions on travel -- border closures, testing requirements -- which is suppressing the demand. And again, we continue to see evidence that where these restrictions are removed, demand returns pretty quickly. Overall, the industry for October was 49.4%, down on where it was in 2019. I think that's the first time we've moved above the 50% mark, and year to date we’re about 61% down.

If you look at the next slide on domestic markets, it is quite a mixed bag there. We have Russia running a 24% ahead of where it was in 2019 and Australia 81% behind where it was in 2019. The US is at -10.5%. Interestingly, what is not shown on this is the European domestic markets, which are performing reasonably well, at -7.5% below where they were in 2019. And again, this just reinforces what we've been saying, that where people can travel without restriction, there's good underlying demand.

Moving onto the next slide, which looks at the international performance, this really does highlight the border closures. So the best performing part of the network is North America to Central America, down just over 9%. Within Europe, so, international across borders within Europe is down 36%. But then you look at the bottom of the chart there within Asia which is 97% down on 2019. It is completely flat line. There is no movement on that at all. The major problem here continues to be the restrictions on cross border travel, which is suppressing the demand. But you know, we were encouraged by what we were seeing in Europe, as travel restrictions started to relax. Clearly, November will show a slightly different picture. And then December traffic with all of the recent events will be disrupted again.

If I move on to the scheduled data slide, looking slightly ahead, you can see that airlines are adding capacity, both in the domestic and international schedules. However, what we have seen is some very short-term reductions in capacity following the new travel restrictions that were introduced recently. Prior to this latest variant, we were seeing greater confidence in the industry supported by an improving situation with passenger traffic. And we were seeing airlines respond by returning capacity into the market. I think that's the intention of airlines as we go forward. Hopefully this will be a short-term disruption as governments recognize that these restrictions are ineffective. And I'll comment on that in a moment.

The next slide just shows some booking data, which would at this stage indicate that November international travel performance should show a slight improvement on where we were in October, but domestic is likely to show a slight decline. But overall, when we can take restrictions out of the market and allow people to travel, there is good demand there, and certainly improving demand once people get comfortable with the requirements of international travel.

And the final slide deals with this issue of travel restrictions. What we did here is we plotted the travel restrictions on a sort of weighted average basis across all of the regions and the red line there hands the number of infections. Quite honestly, it says here that the impact of travel restrictions and cases is unclear. And I would go a bit further than that, I would say there's no correlation between the introduction of these restrictions and the effect that it's having on the transmission of the virus.

I would point again to the UK, I don't mean to keep picking on them, but they give us plenty of stuff to allow us to pick on them. When they introduced the travel restrictions back on the 22nd of May of 2020, so 18 months ago, when they first introduced these restrictions, they said they were doing so to prevent a second wave at the time of introducing them. And that same day, their 254,000 infections recorded in the UK since the start of the pandemic, so 254,000 on the 22nd of May. And it's 10.6 million today. So, there's no evidence of restrictions suppressing the transmission of the virus. And again, if you go to the data from the UK, as you've heard me quote before, all of the people required to do PCR testing, when they arrived in the UK, the positivity rate amongst that group was 0.8%. While at the very same time the positivity rates in the general population, again, based on the PCR testing, was over 8%-8.3%. We are very clear that these measures do not achieve the stated objective and, in fact, this is supported by statements from the WHO and the ECDC. And I’m just going to read some of these comments, because I think they are worth reflecting on.

What the WHO is saying is that blanket travel bans will not prevent the international spread. And they place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods. In addition, they can adversely impact global health efforts during the pandemic, by disincentivizing countries to report and share the epidemiological and sequencing data. All countries should ensure that the measures are regularly reviewed and updated when new evidence becomes available. And that's the case supported again by the ECDC, which says pretty much the same thing. The best thing governments can do here is to look and assess the risk based on the data and make decisions based on that.

But it's clear to us that the travel industry, and airlines in particular are being used as the poster child to transmit fear, to transmit the messages that governments want to force people to continue to restrict their movements, to comply with all of the COVID requirements. It's not because there's a threat caused by aviation, but it's merely to be able to demonstrate that there is a threat out there. And by hammering the airline industry, they think they're sending a strong, powerful message to the general population to get them to comply with the restrictions. But it's doing huge damage to the airline industry and to tourism industry and to global economies; and it's doing huge damage to people who have been unable to travel, to connect with their family, connect with friends, travel for business.

The time is well past when governments can look at the risk associated with international travel and look at the general risk to the population and start focusing on the areas that need to be focused on, because the risk is definitely not coming from aviation, the risk is in the community. And the sooner governments actually start targeting that and recognizing that we are going to have more of these variants. I'm not a scientist, but every scientist I've listened to explains that this is the natural development of a virus; you know, we are going to have more of them. We cannot keep shutting down aviation and shutting down economies, when in reality, it's not providing any measures to restrict the transmission of the virus and more importantly, it's doing huge damage to the industry.

Read press release: Follow WHO Advice: Rescind Travel Bans