Live blog - World Routes 2017

Relive all the highlights from World Routes 2017 in Barcelona, the only route development forum operating on a global scale.

Follow our live blog for updates throughout World Routes 2017, the world's premier air service development forum, taking place in Barcelona. 

Tuesday 26 September

18.15 - World Routes aviation forum handed over to Guangzhou

wr handover

World Routes brings together airlines, airports and destinations to plan and negotiate future air services. Guangzhou, an economic hub on the Pearl River in Guangdong Province, South China, will provide the perfect platform for the event in 2018.

Guangzhou has been an important trade centre for 2,000 years due to its strategic position near the South China Sea. Its economic strength has helped Guangdong to maintain its status as the richest province in China for the last three decades.

The colourful Canton Tower and Cantonese cuisine has made Guangzhou a popular choice with international tourists. Other attractions include the asymmetrical Guangzhou Opera House, the Five Rams Statue in Yuexiu Park, a variety of Buddhist temples and Baiyun ‘White Clouds’ Mountain.

World Routes 2018 will be hosted by Guangdong Airport Authority, the owner of Baiyun International Airport. Baiyun is China’s third busiest airport and the 15th busiest in the world, handling nearly 60 million passengers in 2016. A second terminal will be able to handle up to 80 million passengers a year when it opens in early 2018.

Click here to read more

16.45 - World Routes Marketing Awards video

Relive the prestigous World Routes Marketing Awards, held last night at the Palau Sant Jordi. 

16.30 - Thank you to the host!

15.30 - Best Stand Award winner is...

You’ve all enjoyed their juices over the past three days… that’s right, the winner of the World Routes 2017 Best Stand Award is Copenhagen! Congratulations to everyone involved! Routesonline caught up with the team to find out more about the Danish airport’s presence at World Routes 2017.

 “Happiness and Danish Hygge! Danes are the happiest nation on earth and we believe that’s why we excel in creating places and experiences that bring inspiration, innovation and efficiency,” the team said.

When asked about route development targets, they added: “Two of our previous largest unserved long-haul routes has just been commenced/announced – namely Delhi and Hong Kong.

“From now on we will start to work on getting routes to Manila, Bali, Colombo, Johannesburg, Seoul, Islamabad, Havana, Seattle, Kuala Lumpur and Cape Town and they are the ones with the highest traffic potential.”

15.00 - Virgin Atlantic to up Manchester capacity

Virgin Atlantic plans to expand its US capacity from Mancheser Airport, an exhibitor at World Routes. Flights to both New York JFK and Atlanta have been upgraded and will now be operated by both the A330 and the largest aircraft in Virgin Atlantic’s fleet, the Boeing 747, which boasts 455 seats per aircraft. In total the airline will now offer more than 350,000 direct seats between Manchester and US airports. 

Stephen Turner, commercial director at Manchester Airport, said: "To see Virgin Atlantic increase capacity on two of its most popular routes is incredibly pleasing and something which our passengers will welcome I am sure."

14.30 - News from Airlineroute

airlinerouteDon't forget that Airlineroute is continuing to bring you the latest route announcements, changes in schedule, aircraft and codeshare agreements during World Routes 2017. 

New today:

United adds regional services from Chicago
Virgin Atlantic boosts Manchester - US capacity in S18
KLM boosts Colombia service in NS18 

14.10 - Last but not least...

Our final session in the World Routes Conference Programme is 'How to Effectively Use ACMI Wet Leasing to Increase Fleet Flexibility, Efficiency & Revenue' happening in Theatre 1 now. 


From the session: Andy Peirce says leasing "not only helps in increasing the fleet size at a fairly quick rate but also reduces the cost to airline operators seeking short- to medium-term capacity increase and flexibility".

He adds:

  • ACMI lease can be for just one rotation or for extended periods of 12 months or more
  • Lessors are paid on the basis of each block hour operated for lessee
  • Seasonality and market availability has significant impact on market rates
  • Increased demand for certain aircraft types

Why do airlines wet lease? Crew shortages, new routes and increased demand are all core reasons, says Peirce.

wet leasing

13.30 - Who's going to win our Best Stand Award?

Just two hours until the winner is revealed! Have you voted via the Routes App yet? 

13.00 - Key messages from Airports Company South Africa

South Africa stand

What have been your most notable route successes? Reaching a ten million passenger milestone for Cape Town International Airport, and surpassing 20 million passengers for O.R Tambo International Airport

What are you next targets for route development? Our main targets are South East Asia, Mainland China and Europe.

What is your main message at World Routes? That South Africa and the region of Southern Africa is open for business and tourism.

12.40 - Over at the wall

Our artist Paula Bressel is still hard at work capturing key moments from World Routes.

wall wr

12.30 - Airports 'not ready to become theme parks'


Airports must remain focussed on keeping passengers relaxed and happy before they consider becoming "theme parks". 

Despite the growth in non-aeronautical revenue and economic impact of airports, customers are not ready for off-site shopping centres and airport cities, said Jeremy Pennington, director, commercial, Vantage Airport Group.

“I don’t relax until I’m through security and I know our passengers don’t either," he said. "Our priority is still getting people through that process and providing services airside."

Read more on this story

12.15 - Watch all the highlights from Monday

Monday at World Routes was a fantastic day and some of the best bits have been captured here.

12.00 - Puerto Rico Tourism Company


As part of its participation at World Routes, Puerto Rico Tourism Company sheds light on its route development plans.

What have been your most notable route successes? The most notable recent route successes have been the return of Iberia to Puerto Rico (MAD-SJU), the rapid expansion of Southwest Airlines, and the arrival of Air Transat, Allegiant Air and Frontier Airlines within a one-year span.

What are you next targets for route development? Our next targets for route development are additional European and Latin American routes, as well U.S. West Coast non-stop service.

What is your main message at World Routes? Our message is that Puerto Rico is open for business and as attractive as ever as a tourist destination. Come visit and take it ‘Despacito’. The longer you stay, the better it gets.

11.45 - Cerdá warns on US pre-clearance pressure

US security pre-clearance zones in other countries may cause more problems than they solve. Speaking at the Spotlight on the US session, IATA regional vice president the Americas Peter Cerdá said some airports cannot deal with the additional pressure.

Read the full story

11.30 - Can you spot yourself?

Head over to Routes' Facebook page for all the photos from Monday, including images from the prestigious World Routes Marketing Awards 2017. 

wr facebook

11.15 - Nordica reveals new destinations at World Routes

Estonian carrier Nordica has announced two new routes; Talinn to Ohrid in Macedonia and Tallinn to Constanta in Romania. The airline currently operates 19 routes from Tallinn and has 28 percent of the airport’s market share.

Sven Kukemelk, CEO regional jet OU, executive director, Nordica, said: “We wanted to announce these services at World Routes because the event is very important for the route development community."

Read the full story by clicking here

11.05 - Air cargo development for airports: challenges in 2020

Learn how to develop more efficient local logistic supply chain beyond the airport and the airline are key to make air cargo develop and gain economic impact. Head to the Keynote Arena now.


From the session:

11.00 - Kuuchi calls on governments to stimulate North-South Africa links

African governments must do more to stimulate inter-continental trade, which will in turn open up new air routes.

That’s according to Raphael Kuuchi, VP for Africa at IATA, who was speaking at the Spotlight on Africa session at World Routes in Barcelona.

“Traffic between South and North Africa cannot just happen overnight,” he said. “If you look at the business imperative, it hardly exists. There are no trade links.” Click here to read more.

10.45 - Community spotlight

Routesonline catches up with Israel Airports Authority. 


What have been your most notable route successes? Expansion by two airlines and beginning service by two more.

What are you next targets for route development? Destinations in EU and Scandinavia.

What is your main message at World Routes? Eilat is an excellent winter destination, safe, relaxed and a gateway to the Red Sea and the Dead Sea.

10.00 - Airport challenges in 2020

How can airports in the US and Europe keep pace with airport developments in the Middle East and Asia? What developments need to happen in airport infrastructure to keep pace with increasing demand? Are governments and the industry working together to address these challenges? Our airport challenges session is taking place n the Keynote Arena now.

airport 2020

From the session...

“The market is growing faster than we’re able to grow airports; so it’s all about efficiency. When it comes to handling challenges we can’t predict the future but we should learn from the past.” Mike Benjamin, COO, OAG

“The low-cost revolution increases the volatility experienced by airports,” Jeremy Pennington, director, commercial, Vantage Airport Group

"Airports need to learn how to change from being landlords to being service providers,"  Jordi Candela, executive director, Aeroports de Catalunya

“We’re no longer just gateways into a country; we’re economic enablers for a country," Datuk Badlisham Bin Ghazali, managing director, MAHB

09.45 - Narita Airport targets BCN


Routesonline caught up with Narita Airport as part of its participation at World Routes.

What have been your most notable route successes? Iberia's direct service between Madrid and Narita which has returned in 2016 after 18 years.

What are your next targets for route development? A new service to Barcelona!

What is your main message at World Routes? Visit us at Narita Airport's booth HNS7.530 and get a chance to join "KIRIE" (Japanese art of paper cutting) event!

09.20 - African spotlight

africa we

Raphael Kuuchi, VP for Africa at IATA, says the African market is growing at a rate of 5.1 percent from now to 2035. Currently about 180 million passengers travel each year, but this is expected to rise to more than 300 million. 

But he added: "While the traffic is growing, there are still constraints in the market. Much of this relates to ease of access of movement for operators to access markets. Africa is largely governed by bilateral agreements and that limits connectivity."

"Traffic between South and North Africa cannot just happen. If you look at the business imperative, it hardly exists. There are no trade links. So what would people be travelling for? African governments need to make an effort to improve trade in Africa. If we improve inter-country activity then people will have reason to move across the continent."

09.00 - Today's Conference Programme

Day three of our Conference Programme is about to start in Theatre 2. This session will focus on aviation in Africa, looking at air connectivity, liberalisation and airport infrastructure. 


08.45 - Community spotlight

detroit wr

Routesonline caught up with Detroit Metro Airport as part of its participation at World Routes.

What have been your most notable route successes? WOW announced service to Iceland starting in April 2018.

What are you next targets for route development? More long-haul service to Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

What is your main message at World Routes? Detroit is America’s Engineering Capital, Bringing in tens of thousands of high-paying millennial jobs.

08.30 - Passenger rise at Hermes Airports

Hermes Airports’ passenger traffic has grown 15 per cent year-to-date in 2017 and 28 new destinations have been announced for the two Cypriot airports under its management, Larnaka International and Pafos International. This passenger growth builds on last year’s 18.2 per cent increase.

“If we want to keep Cyprus top-of-mind as a brand and a tourism destination, the island needs to refresh its identity,” says Maria Kouroupi, senior marketing manager at Hermes Airports, part of Vantage Airport Group’s global network.

“That’s why we are working closely with government, travel industry partners and airlines in particular to actively promote the creation of this new identity, which casts Cyprus as an all-seasons destination that offers visitors a compelling mix of ancient history, breathtaking geography and vibrant, modern culture.”

08.00 - Vancouver's sustainable gateway ambitions

vancouver wr

As part of the World Routes 2017 delegation, Routesonline spoke to Carl Jones, director, air service development at double award-winner Vancouver Airport Authority, about why the airport has enjoyed success in recent years.

"YVR is targeting growth across all sectors, with many unserved and underserved routes offering airlines opportunities for expansion. For example, destinations such as Miami, Washington, D.C. in the U.S. and Bangkok, Singapore and Vietnam in Asia do not currently have direct air service from YVR—we want to change that.

"YVR’s vision is to build a sustainable gateway between Asia and the Americas, two regions with the fastest growth rates forecast over the next 20 years. YVR is already amongst the top airports in the world for long haul air services to the China and Asia region, and we are now targeting services to Latin America including Peru, Chile and Brazil to build on Central American services already in place. We have had huge success with Aeromexico that launched service in 2015 and has grown to double daily services in the last two years."

Read more about Vancouver's success and route development ambitions

Tuesday 26 September

07.30 - Registration, Diary Advice and Networking Village now open

meeting hall wr

Monday 25 September

21.00 - Vancouver International Airport wins World Routes 2017 Marketing Awards!


The World Routes Marketing Awards are one of most prestigious events in the aviation industry. They are voted for by airline professionals who nominate the airports and destinations that provide outstanding support during the launch of new air routes or the development of existing services.

Vancouver is North America’s fastest-growing international airport, increasing at nearly twice the average rate. Last year passenger numbers increased by 9.7 percent to 22.3 million, putting the airport on track to meet its goal of 25 million passengers by 2020. Eight new routes were launched and ten new airlines were gained in existing markets.

Anne Murray, Vancouver International Airport’s vice president of marketing & Communications said: We are deeply honoured with this recognition. This all comes down to team – our exceptional team at YVR, our outstanding airline partners and our community and tourism organizations who all work together to support the increase of traffic to Vancouver.”

In addition to the overall winner, the airport and destination awards are judged in five categories. Vancouver was also honoured in the ’20-50 Million Passengers’ category, while Nuremberg Airport won ‘Under 4 Million Passengers’; Prague Airport won ‘4 Million-20 Million Passengers’; Singapore Changi Airport won ‘Over 50 Million Passengers’ and Canary Islands Tourist Board won the ‘Destination’ award.

This year a new category was introduced to celebrate the individuals who make an outstanding contribution to route development. Léon Verhallen, Brussels Airport’s head of aviation development, scooped the award for helping to secure six new airlines and 17 new destinations in the last year, including routes to Shanghai (Hainan Airlines) and Hong Kong (Cathay Pacific).

Click here for more on all the winners tonight!

20.00 A recap of the finalists

Here are all the finalists in the running to win an award at the World Routes Marketing Awards 2017 tonight. Good luck!

The 2017 shortlists:

Individual Award for Outstanding Contribution to Routes Development

  • Ignacio Biosca, Aena
  • Beat Kisseleff, Air New Zealand
  • Jo-Anne Arends, Aruba Airport Authority
  • Ioanna Papadopoulou, Athens International Airport
  • Uel Hoey, Belfast International Airport
  • Léon Verhallen, Brussels Airport
  • Yil Surehan, Massport/Boston Logan International Airport
  • Christian Kaeser, Nuremberg Airport
  • Hampton Brown, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority
  • Stephanie Wear, Tenerife Tourism Corporation
  • Gabriel Schmilovich Isgut, Vueling Airlines
  • Paul van den Brink, Cape Town Air Access

Under 4 Million Passengers Award

  • Cork Airport
  • George Best Belfast City Airport
  • Nuremberg Airport
  • Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport
  • Shannon Airport

4-20 Million Passengers Award

  • Auckland Airport
  • Birmingham Airport
  • Kraków Airport
  • Naples International Airport
  • Prague Airport

20-50 Million Passengers Award

  • Athens International Airport
  • Copenhagen Airport
  • Dublin Airport
  • Munich Airport
  • Oslo Airport
  • Vancouver International Airport

Over 50 Million Passengers Award

  • Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
  • Denver International Airport
  • Heathrow Airport
  • Hong Kong International Airport
  • Singapore Changi Airport

Destination Award

  • Canary Islands Tourist Board
  • Madrid Destino
  • Malta Tourism Authority
  • The Philippines’ Department of Tourism
  • Tenerife Tourism Corporation
  • Tourism Ireland

19.30 - The World Routes Marketing Awards are underway!


18.00 - Networking Evening

At 19.00 tonight, the Networking Evening, which will include the World Routes Marketing Awards, will take place in Palau Sant Jordi.

Built using innovative hydraulic technology, Palau Sant Jordi was designed by the acclaimed Japanese architect Arata Isozaki and was one of the main venues for the 1992 Summer Olympics.

A masterpiece of engineering, the Palau Sant Jordi will provide a spectacular backdrop for the industry’s most coveted awards.

17.30 - Med cruise industry should exploit the Chinese market 

Clever targeting of Chinese tourists could turn the Mediterranean cruise market into a year-round proposition.

Speaking at a panel debate on the cruise industry at World Routes 2017 in Barcelona, Celestyal Cruises CEO and CLIA Europe chair Kyriakos Anastassiadis said the traditional Mediterranean cruise market revolves around the summer months.

However, with Chinese travellers more interested in shopping and seeing the sites, he believes there is an opportunity to be exploited.

Read more

17.00 - And the winner is...

Over on the Vienna stand, someone has just won a trip to Vienna!

vienna winner

16.30 - Turn your website into an effective, data-driven inbound content marketing machine

A formula for airline engagement: Bilton said that airports need to provide non-biased insight, surprising stats and stories that brings to life the growth opportunities in their market. But he added that content promotion is essential. This includes building your own mailing lists and social channels, as well as working with media partners to get message to the right audience.

Tourism drivers: When you look at search traffic people are searching for the destination not the airport, Bilton said. "You can start to create content to own the destination," he added. "Airports can own destination searches." He pointed to as a useful tool.

Bilton also explained how Finavia has had more social engagement than any other in the world this year, saying they have a very clear content strategy and think like a publisher. He said the the team are unafraid to take a playful approach to their brand, with their latest ad creative using their IATA code ‘HEL’. Read more about Finavia's success by clicking here

16.15 - Why content marketing is vital

Luke bilton

In the Keynote Arena, UBM's Luke Bilton is providing a snapshot of the trends in aviation marketing. He explained that content marketing is the major driver of website traffic growth, with content marketing leaders experiencing 7.8 times the year-on-year growth of non-leaders. In 2016, 90 percent of marketers invested in content marketing.

16.10 - Singapore Changi Airport targets 85 million 


Singapore Changi Airport is looking for new routes and capacity expansion as it prepares to grow capacity to 85 million passengers per annum by 2019.

Ivan Tan, Changi Airport Group’s senior vice president for corporate and marketing communications said the airport handled 61 million passengers in the year to August.

With the opening of the new Terminal 4 on October 31 and the expansion of Terminal 1 in the near future, there will be room for more than a third more passengers.

Tan said he is keen to secure new routes to a number of destinations including Vancouver, Poland, Hungary, central Asia and the Russian Far East to grow consumer choice.

16.00 - News from Airlineroute

airlinerouteDon't forget that Airlineroute is continuing to bring you the latest route announcements, changes in schedule, aircraft and codeshare agreements during World Routes 2017. 

15.50 - Spotlight on the US

Donald Trump, Open Skies and the laptop ban are set to be discussed in our Spotlight on the US panel. 

Erik Hansen, senior director – domestic policy at USTA, says the industry needs to educate the current administration on the economic benefits of the aviation industry. 

Peter Cerdá, regional VP, Americas at IATA, adds that the knee-jerk reaction by the Trump administration is damaging the sector. "There needs to be consultation and a transparency. We can come up with solutions and recommendations."

15.45 - Ignore digital at your peril, airlines told

If airlines treat digital technology as an afterthought they will get left behind in a fast-changing marketplace, delegates at World Routes 2017 have been told.

At the ‘How digital will reshape aviation by 2020’ discussion, Hugh Aitken, senior director of strategic partnerships, Skyscanner, said digital should be something that drives value.

Click here to read the full report.

15.15 - Damaging effects of luxury travel

Luxury travel is doing more damage to the environment than mass tourism, delegates at World Routes have been told.

The Travel Foundation's head of communications Ben Lynam said any luxury traveller consumes four times more water per day than the average European on a daily basis and more than other types of travel.

He added golf courses are also a problem when it comes to water conservation, with the average course requiring more water in a day than 80 percent of the world’s population and usually in the summer when water scarce.

Click here to read more

14.45 - In the digital driving seat

14.30 - Look east, says Aitken

"If you see digital as a physical thing you have to do that's wrong. It should be something that drives value in your business," says Hugh Aitken, senior director of strategic partnerships, Skyscanner. "It's much more about a philosophy and a way of thinking within the business."

"We are looking east for inspiration, looking at China, Korea and Japan. In Europe, a lot of our digital is about getting a good site, but that's the basics. The emergence of new channels is growing rapidly. The technology is moving along and we have to look how millennials are using it."

digital wr

14.10 - How digital will reshape aviation by 2020

Aviation is a digital business and hugely reliant on technology. Which airlines are ahead in the digital game? Can airlines keep pace with passengers’ digital demands? Are airlines systems robust enough to cope?  Our panel session at 14.10 in the Keynote Arena will explore these questions and more. Hear from:

13.45 - Latin American airlines and airports 'must work together' to overcome challenges


Airports and airlines in Latin America can overcome issues surrounding infrastructure constraints and market consolidation if they work together, delegates at World Routes have been told. Click here to read more

13.00 - Ambitious Poland seeks to become leading hub

newsarticle-274949-scaled-580x0.jpgGrzegorz Michorek, deputy general director of ‘Polish Airports’ State Enterprise, outlines the airport's ambition at World Routes 2017.

He says: "As we want to become the leading Central and Eastern European hub, we want to be connected with all the CEE capitals and major cities to provide the best transfer opportunities to North America and Asia.

"Long-haul services need to grow as well, mostly to USA, China, and South-Eastern Asia, where we already see big and increasing potential."

Read more from Grzegorz

12.30 - Celebrating Quebec 

To celebrate Quebec City Jean Lesage International Airport winning the bidding process for Routes Americas 2019, our artist Paula Bressel has been hard at work...

12.05 - Spotlight on LATAM

Next up in Theatre 2 we focus on the Latin American and Caribbean market.

Why is Vinci investing in airports in Dominican Republic and Chile given the barriers to market? "In each barrier there’s an opportunity," says Alvaro Leite, project director, airline marketing at Vinci Airports.

"We see an untapped potential in South America. The forecasted growth in the coming years is much higher than other regions. We go for growth in developing markets - we've done that in Europe and Asia. And we believe in our ability to develop the market."

12.00 - From the exhibition floor

egis wrAs part of its involvement in World Routes 2017, Routesonline spoke to EGIS...

What are you next targets for development? We are focusing on Europe, Africa and North America (for our European, African and Polynesian airports).

What is your main message at World Routes? Egis is customer oriented both in terms of facilitation for the ops and also to find the right deal to support airlines network development.

If you head to the EGIS stand now, there's a live demonstration from a chocolatier...

11.45 - 'Cooperation to help ease India's capacity constraints'

Many of India’s major airports are operating at full capacity, but Raj Andrade from Bangalore International Airport says better discussion between airlines and airports should help to ease constraints. Read more

11.30 - Cruise and aviation 2020: How to make the most of the cruise growth opportunity

11.15 - Airlines to 'keep calm and carry on' despite Brexit fears

The clock may be ticking on Brexit, but airlines remain largely in the dark as to what it will mean for their business prospects.

Speaking in a panel debate entitled Spotlight in Europe, Flybe chief commercial officer Vincent Hodder said airlines are no clearer on what the move could mean than they were at Routes Europe 2017 in April.

He also expressed concern that the final details could be resolved in a last-minute rush, with vital details overlooked in the rush to complete a deal. Read more

11.00 - Willie Walsh podcast now live!

The second episode of the Routes Podcast is IAG chief executive Willie Walsh. Interviewed by John Strickland, Walsh talks openly about the launch of Level this year new low cost-long haul airline.

  • He discussed how Level managed with a light management structure, leveraging the Aer Lingus existing short haul network as a feeder
  • What it really takes to be a low-cost line, managing costs across every part of the business
  • How he wants to win against Gulf Carriers through competition rather than through government regulation, which he says will only keep costs artificially high for passengers

The podcast is sponsored by OAG, download here:

10.45 - From the Lightning talks

10.40 - Vienna Airport hopes for long-haul growth

Vienna Airport outlines aim for more long-haul flights as part of its World Routes 2017 delegation. 

"We aim to further develop our long haul network and support transfer traffic to strengthen our position as a hub between west and east. Also important to Vienna Airport is the local market - that shows very strong growth – and focus on the expansion of point-to point connections especially within Europe."

Read more on Vienna's rout development successes, strategy and message at World Routes. 

10.30 - San Francisco and Seattle high on Pittsburgh's list

pit stand

Pittsburgh International Airport has a team of 11 manning its stand including members of the local tourist board and chambers of commerce. Chief executive Christina Cassotis said the airport was targeting new routes to a number of destinations, including the US west coast with both San Francisco and Seattle high on the list. Routes to Europe, Canada, Latin America and Mexico are all highly desired too. Read Routes' recent interview with Christina

10:20 - In it to win it...

Visit St Petersburg Pulkovo Airport at their stand for the chance to win a stay at a Four Seasons hotel!


10.00 - What do airlines really want?

Rikke Lightning

In the Keynote Arena now we have Ian Clayton, global head of regulation, hubs and long-haul network development at IAG, and Rikke Munk Christensen, vice president traffic planning at Finnair to explain what airlines really want to hear from airports.

First up is Rikke Munk Christensen:

"As an airline we spend the majority of time tuning our network. We stll want to hear any information from airprorts where we already fly."

"On unserved routes we need the expertise of airports and destinations. We all see the same O&D data but how can we stimulate the market? We need your expertise."

Next is Ian Clayton...

"People think running an airport is expensive. Airlines are twice as revenue intensive - aerpolanes cost a lot of money."

"Airlines are always working to be more efficient and save costs. This hasn't been reflected in airports, so we need them to be more efficient."

09.30 - Indian airports need long-term vision

Raj Andrade from Bangalore International Airport says airports in India have suffered from a lack of foresight in the past but things are changing. "What has happened over the last 18 months is discussions between airlines and airports have increased," he says. "Airlines have now begun to share their strategy over the next three to five years. That allows airports to plan infrastructure around that need."

spotlight asia wr

09.15 - Room for LCC growth in China

Edmond Rose, independent aviation consultant, says low-cost carriers in China have to confront some tough conditions. "For example, short turnarounds aren’t allowed while they get challenged for selling ancillaries," he says. "They haven’t been allowed to show their full potential. There are a lot of secondary cities and there’s definitely room for growth of LCCs in China."

08.50 - Don't forget the World Routes Conference Programme starts now

Up first is the Spotlight on Asia session, looking at key challenges and opportunities in the region.

08.30 - Walsh confirms Air Berlin bid

Speaking at World Routes yesterday, IAG chief executive Willie Walsh confirmed the group has participated in the bidding process for parts of insolvent German airline Air Berlin. However, he told delegates in Barcelona that he does not expect that the offer will be successful.

“We put in a binding bid for part of AirBerlin, but I don’t think it comes as any surprise that Lufthansa is going to get it,” he said. “From every angle, it looks like it was designed to facilitate Lufthansa but we’ll wait and see. We haven’t heard anything official yet.”

Click here to read more on this story.

08.00 - View the highlights 

Have you seen all the highlights from Sunday? 

Monday 25 September

07.30 - Registration, Diary Advice and Networking Village now open

diary advice wr

Sunday 24 September

19.00 - European airline consolidation expected

A period of consolidation among European airlines similar to what has occurred in the US is to be both expected and welcomed, delegates at the Spotlight on Europe session were told today. 

Austrian Airlines senior director network management Alexandra Goldschmidt said the recent issues of both airberlin and Alitalia pointed to a wider truth.

She added: “Consolidation of European traffic has been expected for a long time. It has probably just started and will go on for a couple of years. We are still facing competition and we will do in the future and there’s nothing bad about it.”

Click here to read more. 

18.00 - The Welcome Reception is in full swing

17.30 - LEVEL's fleet to grow to 30 in five years

Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group, has told World Routes 2017 that its long-haul low-cost carrier LEVEL hopes to grow its fleet to 30 aircraft by 2022.

He added: "We have three aircraft on the way. We might look at expanding our presence in Barcelona but the two principal European cities we’ve looked at are Rome and Paris." 

Read more from Willie Walsh's keynote talk this afternoon.

willie walsh wr

17.00 - Welcome Reception

Don't forget the Welcome Reception will take place at 17.30 in the Fira Gran Via. Delegates will be treated to a wide range of delicious local delicacies and refreshments, while the event will provide an opportunity for delegates to network in a relaxed setting following the first full business day of World Routes.

16.45 - How much responsibility should lie with tourists?

Graeme Jackson, head of partnerships at The Travel Foundation, says responsibility lies in every part of the industry: "We can do a lot through choice editing and ask people to behave in a certain way. But people always don’t behave the way you’d like them to. Destinations really need to think about the sort of tourism they want and hopefully they’ll attract the tourists they want."

tourism wr

16.10 - Will 2020 be a tipping point for tourism? Is it possible to increase air services and to be sustainable?

There is no end in sight for the growth in demand – the UNWTO predicts 1.4 billion international tourists by 2020. So how will destinations cope? In the Keynote Arena now our expert panel will discuss the problem of over tourism.

Albert de Gregorio, deputy manager at Barcelona Tourism, says the region's bed-space capacity has increased by about 10 percent over the past four years following the popularity of Airbnb. "Flats and bedrooms being rented out is a new reality," he says. "It's part of the negative reaction against tourism."

15.50 - From the Spotlight on Europe panel

15.40 - And the winner is...

Routes announcement: The first Canadian Routes Americas will take place in 2019 following a successful bid from Quebec City Jean Lesage International Airport. Routes Americas brings together airports, airlines, tourism authorities and governments to plan future air services. It moves to a new city every year to highlight different markets to the aviation industry’s decision makers.

Steven Small, brand director of Routes said: “Quebec is a fascinating, historic city with a dynamic economy and exciting aviation opportunities supported by the growth plans of YQB. It is an ideal location for the first Canadian Routes Americas and we look forward to working with the highly professional team in Quebec.”

Click here to read more about this exciting announcement!

routes americas 2019

15.10 - Spotlight on Europe

Taking place in Theatre 1 is the Spotlight on Europe, examining key issues affecting the industry right now. Moderated by Nigel Mayes from ASM, the panel features:

14.45 - Walsh on Ryanair

Willie Walsh says the aviation industry can learn from Ryanair's recent 'mess up' on the over-allocation of pilots' holidays during a relatively busy period, saying the Irish carrier has an unparalleled ability to ride out any storms. "I don't get any pleasure out of it. I’m sure the blood on the wall has probably been washed off now. We’ll wait and see if there are any opportunities [for IAG's airlines]."

14.30 - LEVEL's expansion

Willie Walsh says LEVEL, IAG's new airline based in Barcelona, could have up to 30 aircraft by 2020. He adds that the business is close to making a decision on its second European base.

"We have three aircraft on the way. We might look at expanding our presence in Barcelona but the two main European cities we’ve looked at are Rome and Paris," he says. "We’ll make a decision on that within the next couple of months. We do prefer one over the other, and I think it will be at least two aircraft in the new base."

He also reiterated an opportunity for LEVEL to fly Barcelona-Tokyo.

14:00 - Keynote speech - IAG chief executive Willie Walsh 

Willie Walsh

"I don't think low-cost will dominate the market, but we're convinced there's a profitable business there."

"LEVEL will need to demonstrate that it can make a profit - but we wouldn't be doing it if we weren't convinced we can make it work." 

"With the exception of fuel on every cost heading we have an advantage over Norwegian. For 2019 we're looking at maybe 13 aircraft, and 30 by 2022"

"This is an industry that has never demonstrated the required profitability to make long-term investments, but we're doing that now."

13.45 - Airlines need to innovate, says Mogensen

Read more from this morning's 'Route development 2020: How to grow in a world where disruption is the new norm' discussion. 

13.15 - 13 million milestone for BHX

Following 30 months of consecutive monthly passenger growth, World Routes exhibitor Birmingham Airport smashed through the 13 million passenger mark yesterday (23 September 2017) for the first time ever in a rolling 12 months. Join them on Stand HNS 6.290 and celebrate with curry!

birmingham stand

13.00 - Lunch is served...

12.45 - “The soul of your destination is like your virginity, you only get to lose it once.”

Read more from Doug Lansky's keynote speech this morning. He says destinations need to start capping visitor numbers or face destroying the very thing that attracted travellers in the first place.

“The number one reason for a destination to become unpopular is overcrowding. You’ve passed the tipping point but you’re still doing it."

Read the full story.

doug lansky

12.15 - The Trump effect

Just how concerned are airlines about President Trump reconsidering Open Skies? Tewolde Gebremariam, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, doesn't think it will impact his airline: "Connectivity between the US and Africa is low and is not well served. There is under-capacity so we don’t think there’ll be a major change in the policy. In the rest of the world, the concern seems to be more about the type of competition."

12.00 - Will rising labour costs make low-cost carriers not financially viable?

Skúli Mogensen: "The key is to be open with your employees about the reality around you. As long as you communicate with them, it's not an issue. It's all about sharing your strategy and your business model with employees."

lcc wr session

11.45 - All-electric planes

There are a number of exciting future technologies on the horizon in aviation but Juan Carlos Zuazua of VivaAerobus, believes an all-electric plane would be the most transformative for the industry. 

"We’d love to see a fully electric plane like we’re seeing with electric cars in the automobile industry," he says. "It’ll be very difficult and take a long time to develop, but hopefully we can get one in the next decade."

Skúli Mogensen says WOW has been in discussions with manufacturers about the possibility, but reconfiguring cabins would transform the sector in the shorter-term.

11.10 - Route development 2020: How to grow in a world where disruption is the new norm

Starting now in our Keynote Arena is the first panel session of the day. It will look at the future outlook for the industry - an industry which remains uncertain with increasing terror threats; rising nationalism with Trump and Brexit; challenges for new entry, including: slot constraints; technological shifts; new aircraft types and new business models; digital disruption; geopolitical turmoil; and fluctuating oil prices. Don't forget to rate the sessions on and use the code 952664.

Skúli Mogensen, chief executive of WOW air, says he challenges his team to innovate and further disrupt the industry: "I ask them are we a technology company or an airline? We are just coming to a point where you will see great innovation taking place in terms of customer relationship management. I think the airline is in a great position to become a lot more than flying from A to B."

Juan Carlos Zuazua , chief executive of VivaAerobus, says carriers must use technology effectively to understand the customer: "Big Data plays a big role in profitable low-cost carriers. You cannot be successful in the low-cost sector by just selling fares.

"In my opinion, not only the technology is important but also the business model. Many full-service carriers have attempted to start LCCs and 90 percent have failed. It’s a very different business model – the way you run them and the way the management think. The way you operate is an important part of your DNA."

11.00 - Have you seen our artist?

art wall wr

Have you seen our artist Paula Bressel opposite the Keynote Arena? Over the next two days she will be telling the story of World Routes on our art wall, documenting all of the key events!

10.45 - Breaking news from Airlineroute

airlinerouteAirlineroute is continuing to bring you the latest route announcements, changes in schedule, aircraft and codeshare agreements during World Routes 2017. 

Breaking news so far today includes Condor launching a new long-haul service from Dusseldorf, with a service offered to Cancun and Punta Cana, and Hong Kong Airlines filing a preliminary Hong Kong – San Francisco service.

Read more on Airlineroute.

10.30 - Opening remarks and State of route development 2018-2020

In the Keynote Arena, UBM's Luke Bilton is about to deliver the opening address, followed by Doug Lansky, a futurist, thought leader and travel writer. 

Doug is an acclaimed keynote speaker and tourism development thought leader who advises destinations and tourism companies around the world - from Singapore to South Dakota, Australia to Aruba, Google Travel to Amadeus – on strategic planning, marketing issues, visitor experience, industry trends and sustainability.  

His background is as a travel journalist and travel editor, writing for dozens of major publications that range from National Geographic Traveler to The Guardian to Skift, and travelling to more than 100 countries.  

10.10 - Face-to-face meeting now open

Face-to-face meetings form the core of all Routes events, presenting airlines, airports and tourism authorities an unrivalled platform to meet and discuss business opportunities. 

10.00 - Dreamliners a "major step" forward for WestJet

Following WestJet's order earlier this year for up to 20 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, Routesonline  spoke to Lee Lipton, the airline's director network and schedule planning, about the Canadian carrier's long-haul route development ambitions and its message at World Routes 2017. 

He says: "The introduction of Dreamliners into the fleet represents another major step toward WestJet becoming a global airline. Fulfilling the aspiration to bring Canada to the world and the world to Canada means exploring and developing opportunities all over the world." Click here to read more and hear about WestJet's message at World Routes. 

09.40 - How Routes works

Dave Appleby WROver in Theatre 1, David Appleby, director for Latin America and the Caribbean at Routes, is explaining to first-time attendees how Routes works.

He says that key to getting the most out of the event is effective use of the appSponsored by Swedavia, this year’s Routes app gives attendees all the latest event information on the device of their choice.

Dave's top tips for getting the most out of meetings are to:

  • Be concise
  • Be engaging 
  • Be invested
  • Be collaborative
  • Be prepared
  • Be clear

09.30 - Helsinki to hit 18 million passengers

As part of its involvement in World Routes 2017, Routesonline spoke to Finavia to hear its route development plans. 

"Helsinki Airport provides fast connections between Asia and Europe and great network to Lapland and elsewhere in the world, offering cost effective and excellent operations to the airlines," Finavia says.

"Helsinki Airport is the expert in customer experience and Finavia a trusted partner for airlines. Helsinki Airport develops and grows: our new south wing was opened in June."

Read more about Finavia's route development plans and message at World Routes.

wr finavia

09.15 - Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

Are you ready for your meetings? Routesonline gathered the thoughts of decision makers from Finnair, Jetstar and SunExpress on what they do – and don’t – want to hear from airports at network development meetings.

Rikke Munk Christensen, vice president traffic planning, Finnair: "Some cities can have millions of people, but only 10 per cent of the population has a passport - we need that information."

Seb Mackinnon, head of airport partnerships, Jetstar: "The right marketing needs to be a full team effort. We want airports, tourism authorities, local government, developers and hotel associations need to work together."

Wilken Bellmann, head of network planning and scheduling, SunExpress: "We want you to be honest with us, and to be committed. Be honest with us about congestion bottlenecks."

Read more> What do airlines want to hear from airports?

09.10 - Conference programme

Our conference programme, sponsored by OAG, starts shortly in Theatre 1. Over the next three days the programme will examine some of the biggest issues facing aviation - ones that are set to provide significant opportunities and challenges in the coming years. Key topics include: How can the aviation industry cope and plan when there is a permanent state of disruption? How will the long-haul low-cost market evolve? Will 2020 be a tipping point for tourism? Find out more about the conference programme.

Sunday 24 September

09.00 - Registration now open!

Registration, Diary Advice and Networking Area are now open for the first day of World Routes 2017 are now open! We look forward to seeing you there. 

wr open

Saturday 23 September

16.30 - Saturday Reception

Don't forget the Saturday Reception starts at 17.00! Head over to Shôko for the reception, which will provide delegates with the opportunity to network ahead of the main business days of the event. Event transfers will be provided from official hotels.

16.00 - Behind the scenes...

With just hours to go before the meetings and conference programme, Routesonline takes a sneak peak behind the scenes at the venue...

15.30 - Asian visitor growth just the start for Prague

As part of its involvement in World Routes 2017, Routesonline spoke to Prague Airport to hear its route development plans. Its largest underserved markets is North America.

"That is why we see potential for further development of existing seasonal services to New York and Toronto. Based on recent traffic development, a new direct service to Chicago is also in our focus," the airport says. "In Europe, our largest unserved markets are Belfast, Vilnius and Florence."

Read more on Prague Airport's successes and future plans.

15.00 - Five facts on your host destination

  • Barcelona is home to many internationally recognised monuments, the first was commissioned in 1673
  • The city is the only one in the world to have been awarded a gold medal by RIBA for its architecture
  • Barcelona is one of Europe’s greenest cities with 10 percent of the region being occupied by parkland
  • The renowned beaches in Barcelona are only 25 years old, they were created in 1992 for the XXV Olympic Games
  • Europe’s largest cruise port is in Barcelona, with more than 2.5 million cruise passengers passing through annually

wr sagrada

13.00 - Tours of Barcelona

Delegates are about to start the complimentary tours of Barcelona! The Modernisme Walking Tour is the perfect introduction to the greatness of Catalonia's home-grown art nouveau, revealing how it originated and shedding light on its key figures. The Gothic Walking Tour will explain the history of Barcelona from Roman times to the medieval period.


12.00 – Registration is open! 

World Routes 2017 is officially underway with registration now open. We look forward to seeing you at the Fira Gran Via! You can register here until 15.00. After that, you can register from 17.00 – 19.00 at the Saturday Reception, being held at Shôko Barcelona.

wr sign

09.00 - Today's the day! 

After months in the planning, the start of World Routes 2017 has finally arrived! And what better way to start the day than some selfies en route to Barcelona? 

WR sas

WR routes

WR nigelWR danielle

Friday 22 September

18.00 - Share your journey

Despite a thunderstorm, delegates from Finavia are on their way! Share your journey to BCN on the Routes App.

 WR Finavia

17.00 - Community spotlight

As part of its involvement in World Routes 2017, Routesonline spoke to the Chicago Department of Aviation to hear its route development plans. The city's "bold tourism goal" of 55 million visitors by 2020 means renewed focus on new services.

"Australia and New Zealand are particularly important targets for us as airlines acquire aircraft that make non-stop service to Chicago feasible as both destinations forecast very strongly," the airport says.

Read more about Chicago's most notable route successes, targets for route development and main message at World Routes.

16.00 - Already arrived?

For delegates arriving into Terminal 2 at Barcelona El Prat Airport, please make your way over to 2B arrivals where event representatives (wearing red Routes t-shirts) will assist in directing you to the next transfer.

For those arriving into Terminal 1, please make your way to the welcome desk at the baggage reclaim area. Event staff (again wearing fetching red Routes t-shirts) will be available to direct you to your transfers which depart from a lower level.

Route 1: Porta Fira, Renaissance Fira , Fira Congress, Gran Hotel Torre Catalunya and Barceló Sants Hotel
Route 2: SB Plaça Europa / AC Som (same stop), Catalonia Barcelona Plaza, Avenida Palace and 1898
Route 3: Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos and NH Collection Constanza

Friday 22 & Saturday 23 September 
From Barcelona El Prat Airport to official hotels 
Every hour from 09:00 to 22:00

Sunday 24 September
From Barcelona El Prat Airport to official hotels
Every hour 09:00 to 12:30

15.00 - La Mercè

merce_poster_cartel_2017.jpgEach year, close to the end of September, Barcelona holds its largest street party called La Mercè, held in honour of Mare de Deu de la Mercè, the Patron Saint of Barcelona. This year's festival starts today and runs until 25 September.

The event, a celebration of Catalan culture, first took place in 1902 and bids goodbye to the summer. However, it has been an official city holiday since 1871, when the local government first organised a program of special activities to observe the Roman Catholic feast day of Our Lady of Mercy, 

Highlights include the correfoc - or the fire run - which consists of "colles de diables" (groups of devils) dancing to the beat of drums and holding fireworks attached to forks. Hundreds of other individual events are also happening all over the city over this weekend! 

This year's poster was designed by Valencian artist Javier Mariscal, who designed the Cobi mascot for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic games. 

14.00 - The lengths some delegates will go to get to Barcelona...

13.00 - Busy day at BCN

According to OAG Schedules, there are 502 arrivals at Barcelona El-Prat Airport today. Vueling tops the table for the most flights with 195 arrivals, while Ryanair is second with 60. EasyJet (40), Iberia (20) and Norwegian (20) complete the top five. 

Alyson English App

12.00 - How far are you travelling?

Over on the Routes App we're asking delegates how far they are travelling to be in Barcelona. So far, 40 percent of people say their journey will be 0-1,000 miles long, although 12 percent are travelling 7,000+ miles. Head over to the app to take the poll now and why not also tell us what your journey entails? Can anyone beat the eight-strong delegation from Tonga who are travelling for more than 40 hours to be at World Routes? 

Tonga to BCN.jpg

10.00 - The exhibition halls are taking shape

It's all go over in hall six as work continues at Fira Gran Via. Follow Routes' Instagram account for updates. 

Friday 22 September

09.00 - One day to go! 

There is just one day to go before World Routes 2017 is officially underway! For delegates already in Barcelona, why not check out Routes' guide for things to do while you're in the Catalan city? You could dine at one of the city's 20 Michelin-starred restaurants, take a tour of the Camp Nou stadium, explore the world-class museums or relax on some of Barcelona’s 4km of sandy beaches. And if you choose the later, make sure you take your sunglasses and sunscreen... 

BCN weather

Thursday 21 September 

18.00 - Get the Routes App! 

Sponsored by Swedavia, this year’s Routes App gives attendees all the latest event information on the device of their choice. Available on iOS, Android and in HTML5 format for BlackBerry, Windows and laptops, the app is designed to engage route development stakeholders attending the event in Barcelona. Find out more and download it here

Share your journey to Barcelona and we'll post a selection of them on the live blog! Here's Colin Bevan from Christchurch Airport en route to BCN via Manchester in an A380. 

Colin Bevan1

17.00 - Designing the future of aviation

Have you seen the World Routes video yet? 

16.00 - Did you know?

Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, which is one of Spain’s richest and most industrialised regions, contributing towards 20 percent of the nation’s GDP.

Catalonia is an autonomous region with its own language, customs and police force, and has achieved one of the greatest levels of self-government in Spain since the end of the Franco regime in the 1970s.

As the tenth-most visited city in the world and the third-most visited in Europe, Barcelona is a unique blend of tradition and modernism, with a distinctive cultural and artistic heritage dating back more than 2,000 years. 

15.00 - The build at Fira Gran Via is now well underway

Follow @routesonline on Instagram for the latest images of how the venue is taking shape. Fira Gran Via is conveniently positioned between Barcelona El-Prat Airport and the city centre and hosts about 500 events each year. World Routes 2017 will be hosted in pavilions six and seven (just don't get mixed up and end up attending the Arnold Classic Europe in a neighbouring pavilion...).

WR keynote

Thursday 21 September 

14.00 - Anticipation builds for the 23rd World Routes!

With just two days to go, anticipation is building as delegates start to arrive in Barcelona! World Routes will welcome 275 airlines, 610 airports and 90 destinations - are you among the 2,600 attendees? Share your journey to Catalonia on Twitter using the #WorldRoutes hashtag.

World Routes 2017 news

Long-haul low-cost, digitalisation and disruption – designing the future of aviation
The World Routes 2017 conference programme will examine some of the biggest issues facing aviation, set to provide significant opportunities and challenges in the coming years.

Straight to the point for a rejuvenated Pittsburgh
As passenger numbers at Pittsburgh International Airport continue to rise, chief executive Christina Cassotis outlines how the airport is successfully transitioning from a hub to focus on point-to-point traffic.

Interview: Petru Jardan outlines how infrastructure investment is leading to passenger growth at Chisinau
As Chisinau undergoes a significant period of modernisations we speak to the man behind the investment.

Walsh: Transatlantic alliance is "positive" for industry consolidation 
International Airlines Group's chief executive Willie Walsh believes the new alliance between Delta, Air France-KLM and Virgin is “positive” for the industry.

Jamaica targets new markets as part of sustainable tourism push
Airline passenger numbers to Jamaica have grown by 10 percent over the past five years, but the Caribbean island is seeking to further increase its global share of international tourists by tapping into new and existing markets.

What do airlines want to hear from airports?
Ahead of World Routes 2017, Routesonline gathered the thoughts of three airlines to find out the golden rules when preparing for network development meetings.

Record number of Routes meetings 
The total number of meetings taking place across Routes events this year is set to break all previous records.

Recognising the route development heroes
For the first time a new award at the World Routes Marketing Awards will recognise the contribution of top-performing individuals.

World’s 10 largest airlines line up for World Routes 
The ten largest airlines by passengers and RPK are all confirmed to attend World Routes 2017.