Tourism and city partnerships ‘critical’ in route success

A new academic study has revealed the key factors and leadership traits for successful route development.

A strong relationship between an airport and city or tourism authority is the most critical success factor in route development activity, according to a new study.

Strong partnerships with stakeholders in the destination can be the difference when creating a successful business case, particularly in smaller airports, the report states.

The new study - Leadership and governance in air route development – was published in the Annals of Tourism Research journal.

Its authors were Bojana Spasojevic, a speaker at World Routes 2019 (pictured), alongside Gui Lohmann and Noel Scott. It also examined the most successful leadership qualities in the route development industry.

According to Spasojevic and Lohmann, the impact of tourism organisations/cities is “often found to be the most critical factor for route development success”.

“As both airports and tourism organisations/cities represent the same region, they also share common development goals, including a desire to increase passenger/visitor numbers,” the pair explained to Routesonline.

“When involved in route development, tourism organisations/cities can directly influence and support this process by backing up the business case. Additionally, they get the chance to implement some of their business development strategies.”

According to the report, this is most felt in second-tier and mid-sized airports, which need to embed partnerships at the outset for successful route development.

“While primary airports often include tourism partners in the later stages of air route development negotiations, second-tier airports heavily rely on tourism support to build a strong business case,” said Spasojevic and Lohmann.

Leadership in route development

The study also sought to establish which leadership traits, qualities and practices led to the greatest success in air route development.

Overall, partnership, effective communication, information sharing, trust and results production were regarded as the five most important traits.

“Partnership, for example, has been seen as the primary and vital element of any airport-airline relationship,” explained Spasojevic and Lohmann. “Strong partnerships are built through information sharing and effective communication.”

However geographical variations were also identified.

“Participants from Asia consider encouragement, coordination and innovation as the critical leadership traits, while European participants prefer accessibility, resilience and risk-taking,” the pair said.

“Northern American and Oceanian participants share the more common perception of the most effective leadership traits (information sharing, results production, coordination and effective communication).”


Bojana Spasojevic will take part in the Lightning Talks: How airport innovation can attract airlines session at World Routes 2019.  During the session airports will deliver quick presentations on what are their innovations to provide the best solutions and feedback for business proposals to airlines.

See the full conference programme


World Routes 2019

The 25th World Route Development Forum - Adelaide, Australia  21 - 24 September 2019

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