2012 - Routes Year in Review

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Richard Maslen

Richard Maslen,
Editor, Routesonline

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2012 - Routes Year in Review

With the end of the year approaching The HUB thought it would be fitting to take a look back at the 2012 Routes events and focus on some of the highlights of what has been Routes’ most successful year to date.

The 2012 events calendar kicked off in February with Routes Americas which took place at The Atlantis Resort, Nassau & Paradise Island, hosted by Nassau Airport Development Company.  The event, which is the only event which unites the route development community from the entire Americas region, saw a record attendance of 362 delegates with almost 60 airlines represented from all sectors of the industry.  The inaugural appearance of United Airlines at Routes Americas meant that, for the first time, all four major US carriers were in attendance along with the three largest carriers from Latin America (TAM, LAN and Gol Transportes Aereos).  A strong out of region airline participation included British Airways and Air China.

The event opened with Routes Americas Strategy Forum which was incredibly well attended and included some very high level speakers such as John Kirby, Director International for Southwest Airlines, Lawrence Elliott, Group Vice President of Sunwing Airlines, Glen Beache, CEO of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority, Ms. Chris Kennedy, GM-Int'l Network Planning Latin America & Caribbean for Delta Air Lines and Minister Richard Skerritt, Minister of Tourism & Int Transport, St. Kitts and Nevis & Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation.  The event was also attended by Mr Campo Elias Teran, Mayor of Cartagena, which is, of course the host destination for Routes Americas 2013.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport was announced as the winner of the first heat of this year’s Routes Airport Marketing Awards at a lavish networking evening at the Sheraton Nassau where delegates were also treated to some lively entertainment from the Junkanoo street festival which happens every December in Nassau.

In April the Routes Team headed to Chengdu, China for the 10thRoutes Asia event which was attended by more airports and airlines than ever before.  The delegation of 672 included over 200 airline delegates representing 85 airlines from across the Asia region and beyond.  Notable carriers attending the event included, Lion Air and Scoot which were both attending for the first time along with the four major carriers; China Southern, Air China, China Eastern and Hainan.  The event also witnessed a strong North American interest with attendees from American Airlines, United & Air Canada (the latter 2 of which were attending their first Routes Asia event) and the cargo division was well represented by the two largest cargo operators on the planet; FedEx and UPS.

Again the Strategy Forum opened the event to a packed room with keynote presentations from Mr PAN Xiaojun, General Manager & Board Chairman of Sichuan Province Airport Group, Mr LI Haiying, Secretary of the Party Committee of Sichuan Airlines Group Co and General Manager, Sichuan Airlines and Mr CHEN Zhongwei, Director, Chengdu Logistics Office Chengdu Port Office.  Other senior level decision makers at the event in Chengdu included Bo Yang, Director, Corporate Strategy Transformation of China Southern Airlines, Prashant Sukel from Airports Authority of India, Boli Shi, Director General of Chinese Civil Aviation Authority and Sanjay Kumar, Chief Commercial Officer of IndiGo along with ministerial presence from Amar A.R. Zohari, the Minister of Tourism Sarawak and Alain St Ange, Minister of Tourism, Seychelles.

Australia’s 10thbusiest airport, Darwin International Airport, triumphed in the Routes Airport Marketing Awards' Asian heat which took place at a relaxed dinner at the Shangri-La Hotel, Chengdu.  Entertainment for the evening was wide ranging and even included some dancing ‘pandas’!

The beautiful and historic city of Tallinn was the destination for the 7thRoutes Europe event in June of this year.  Hosted by Tallinn Airport the event, again, opened to record numbers of delegates with 841 industry professionals in attendance.

Mr Siim Kallas, EU Commissioner Responsible for Transport and formerly Prime Minister of Estonia, opened the event with a keynote address at the Routes Europe Strategy Forum where hard hitting issues affecting aviation across the region were discussed.  Other industry leaders who took part in the Strategy Forum included Mr Tero Taskila, President of Estonia Air, Mrs Katrien Prins, DG Mobility & Transport for the EU Commission, Mr Vijay Poonoosamy, VP International Affairs for Etihad, Mr Eric Herbane, Chairman of European Association of Slot Coordination (EUACA), Mr Raimonds Grunitis, IATA Manager Northern Europe and Mr Fernando Estrada, Strategy and Alliance Director for Vueling.

Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of the Republic of Estonia opened the Networking Evening which took place at Tallinn Song Festival Grounds.  This marked the first time that a Routes event had been attended by a national President and Routes Europe 2012 was the largest event ever to take place in Estonia after the Eurovision Song Contest in 2002, which also took place at this venue.  The Networking Evening also marked the first, and probably only, performance of the ‘Routes Orchestra’.  Made up of members of the Routes and Tallinn Airport Team the band started the party which left delegates dancing the night away.  During the evening Brussels Airport was announced as the winner of the European heat of the Routes Airport Marketing Awards which, as with the other regional winners, automatically shortlisted them for the World Routes Awards which took place later in the year in Abu Dhabi.

Routes CIS made a welcome return in June when the 2ndedition of the event took place in Ekaterinburg, Russia, the 2012 event was hosted by Ekaterinburg Koltsovo Airport and delegate numbers surpassed the expected 200 with many companies who registered attending their very first Routes event ever.  Airlines such as Yakutia Airlines, VIM Airlines and Tartastan Airlines made their inaugural Routes appearance in Ekaterinburg alongside Kazan Airport, International Airport Barnaul, Belgorod International Airport and Koeln Tourismus Gmbh.

Amongst other delegates of note the event was attended by Mr Alexander Yurchik, Assistant to the Minister of Transport for Russia and the opening presentation of the Routes CIS Strategy Forum was given by Mrs Marina Bukalova, Vice President of TCH Russia.  During the event a new alliance of Russian airports was formally incorporated, as four of the country’s six largest facilities by passenger traffic united to establish a single voice to lobby for better rights and advancements in the industry. 

The Routes Airport Marketing Awards took place during the glamorous networking evening which took place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Ekaterinburg.  This marked the first time that the Marketing Awards have involved a regional heat for the CIS and St Petersburg Pulkovo International Airport was crowned as the winner of this year’s fourth regional heat.

July saw the most successful and largest Routes Africa event to date taking place in Victoria, Seychelles, hosted by the Seychelles Tourism Board in partnership with the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority supported by the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA), AFRAA (African Airlines Association) and ACI Africa.

In total 256 delegates attended the event including representation from 30 different airlines including the top 6 domestic African operators, Egyptair, South African Airways, Kenya Airways, Arik Air, Comair and Kulula.  The World’s largest airline, United Airlines sent senior representation from their Chicago office to look at opportunities in the African market, whilst there was also significant interest from Europe with Iberia and Vueling attending their first Routes Africa.

Kotoka International Airport, Accra was announced as the winner of the Routes Africa Airport Marketing Awards at a tropical themed Networking Evening held at Cap Lazare.  This year's event will be remembered for a long time for the hard work and dedication of the entire team at the Seychelles Tourist Board and its many partners.  It also marked the first appearance of 'Skippy' a Britten-Norman Islander displaying Routes and Routes Africa branding which acted as a popular attraction with delegates during the evening.

Over 3,000 delegates including representation from over 300 airlines and 750 airports descended on Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE at the end of September for World Routes, the 18thWorld Route Development Forum.  The event, which this year was hosted by Abu Dhabi Airports Company, is the largest gathering of the commercial air transport community and the only global event focused on route development meetings.

During the event, the 2ndWorld Route Development Strategy Summit in association with ICAO and World Bank took place alongside this year’s World Routes with around 300 organisations in attendance.  The event opened with a keynote address from James Hogan, CEO of Etihad Airways and attending delegates had the opportunity to hear from almost 50 high level speakers from Airports, Airlines and Associations including James Bennett, CEO of Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC), Rosemarie S. Andolino, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Aviation, Alex Cruz, CEO of Vueling and Abdul Wehab Teffaha, Secretary General, Arab Air Carriers Organisation.

There were more airport CEOs than ever before at World Routes in Abu Dhabi and, overall, an increased number of CEOs and senior level decision makers from airlines, airports and tourism authorities. There were also several ministers for Tourism in attendance from various tourism authorities around the world.  Some of these key delegates included Minister Gloria Guevara, Tourism Mexico, Minister Olga Kefalogianni, Greece Tourism Authority, Adel Abdullah Ali, Board Member & CEO, Air Arabia, Anil Srivastava, Ministry of Civil Aviation, India, Dr Djibo, Director, ICAO, Sani Sener, CEO, TAV and H.E. Sheikh Salem Bin Sultan Al Qasimi from the ruling family of Ras Al Khaimah. In another highlight, World Routes delegates were treated to a visit by cricket legend and Trinidad and Tobago Tourism Ambassador, Brian Lara.

The Yas Marina Circuit, home of the F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix racing circuit, provided an exciting backdrop for the Abu Dhabi Networking Evening which included drinks, dinner, entertainment and the presentation ceremony for the 2012 World Routes Airport Marketing Awards sponsored by OAG and saw Brussels Airport crowned overall winner of the World Routes Awards 2012.

Over 5,500 delegates attended Routes events in 2012 and this review details just some of the highlights from our events in 2012.  The Routes Team are looking forward to welcoming even more delegates to various exciting destinations around the world.  Click here for more information on the 2013 Routes Events Programme.

Happy New Year, we’ll see you in 2013!

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