Thank you, Ezgi, for your presentation. As you've seen from what Ezgi said, we're really looking at a three-speed recovery.
Cargo is performing very strongly. It has been a very good first half of the year, with cargo tonne-kilometers up 8% compared to 2019. And for the month of June, it was nearly 10% up on 2019. So cargo is leading the way in terms of recovery. This strong performance demonstrates how critical cargo is to keeping global supply chains moving at the moment. And I think you've got to give credit to airlines who have been able to pivot their passenger operations to supply cargo capacity, particularly at a time when cargo traveling by sea has seen significant disruption.
We then see domestic passenger markets, as we've talked about before, recovering strongly. The global figures that we've shown you hide the fact that in India, for example, the domestic market is highly regulated at the moment with the government imposing both capacity and pricing restrictions, which is slowing down the recovery. Without those restrictions, I've no doubt that the domestic position in India would be significantly ahead. The June figures, as Ezgi said, were also slightly disrupted by some outbreaks in a number of Chinese cities which caused the Chinese government to impose restrictions.
But international travel continues to lag significantly behind—still only about 20% of where we were in 2019. And I think the message is simple. It's clearly not where we expected to be, particularly in the context of transatlantic. And you've seen the importance of that, as Ezgi demonstrated in her presentation.
But also, the performance of international travel markets is not where we need to be. (Many indicators would be expected to point towards a stronger performance.)
- There is clear evidence of the success of the vaccine rollout. And we're seeing a disconnect between people who are vaccinated and people going into hospital.
- We've seen very effective testing positions in place.
- The evidence is very clear, as we've demonstrated on a few occasions, that the risk associated with international travel is very low. And I'll come back to that in a moment.
- We've also seen the WHO issue guidelines, very similar to what we've suggested, where they've said vaccination should not be a requirement for international travel. People who are fully vaccinated should not be restricted. And people who haven't been vaccinated can travel with sensible testing regimes in place, which would include rapid antigen—not just PCR.
We are seeing some positives:
- Canada and Singapore have recently announced timelines for the reopening of their borders. In the case of Canada, initially for people traveling from the US who are fully vaccinated from August, and then from early September, people from other international destinations. We've not yet seen measures being introduced for people who haven't been fully vaccinated. Based on the data we have, we believe the risk associated with people who have been vaccinated clearly is demonstrated to be extremely low; but the risk associated with people who haven't been [vaccinated]—but have been tested—is very low indeed.
- And today the UK announced that people who are vaccinated from Europe or from the US can travel to the UK without restriction. This mirrors the measure that the UK government had announced previously, where people who have been vaccinated in the UK could return to the UK from green and amber countries without restriction. So these are positives and we've got to take some positive from that. And hopefully that will see other governments following the lead that has been set there.
There are negatives, however.
- We've seen a very risk averse approach being adopted in Australia, where they've now shut down the country again, because of an outbreak there. The figures from Australia remain very low. I think the seven-day average per million was just under seven versus the UK today at 482. So there you have the UK at 482 seven-day average per million opening up everything, and Australia with an average of less than seven shutting everything down.
It doesn't need to be this way. It's clear that the risks of COVID-19 are significantly reduced (compared to when restrictions were put in place). It is very interesting to look at the UK, again, where in the most recent three weeks where data is available for international travel, the positivity rate (of tests administered on arriving travelers) was 0.6%. And that compared to the general positivity rate for people tested in the UK in the same period—this is between the 10th of June to the 30th of June—of 4.08. So, for people flying in who were tested, 0.6%. For people in the country who were tested, 4%. So you can see here that international travel does not represent a threat to any of the countries based on all of the data we are seeing.
And of course, [we need to remember] that international travel is not just about holidays. It is about connecting people, connecting families and connecting business. We've seen before that about 60% of people who travel for international travel are traveling for other than holiday purposes. And the travel restrictions are causing great disruption and continue to put jobs at risk—not just in the airline and tourism industry, but in other industries as well.
So as we move forward, I think it's important that we reaffirm the need to get back to face-to-face meetings, the need to re-establish direct connectivity, and the need to base decisions on the data and the science, which would give governments very good reason to relax or remove the restrictive measures that they continue to have in place for people who are traveling internationally. Thank you.
> Press release: June Air Travel Recovery Continues to Disappoint
> Press release: Air Cargo Posts Strongest First Half-Year Growth Since 2017
> Presentation: One Ocean, Two Shores: Time to Reconnect (pdf) presentation from Ezgi Gulbas, IATA's Senior Economist