One of the challenges for airports and airline network planners alike is the lead time between evaluating and deciding to launch a new route, and when new services and additional capacity actually begin. It means route decisions being made now apply to the summer and winter 2011/12 programmes or beyond. Given the uncertainties of the economic recovery, this is more challenging than ever.
But preparing for growth, especially with the capacity due to come on stream over the next couple of years, was exactly what was happening in Vancouver as it played host to the World Route Development Forum this week. This is the annual forum at which airports and tourism authorities try and attract new services, and where network planners discuss route opportunities. To capture the mood of the industry, the thinking of airlines and the strategies of the airports, check out our three daily papers from Routes here – our biggest and busiest ever from the event.
One of the most interesting things at the show was to see the fresh approach of London Gatwick, now going it alone since London City Airport owner Global Infrastructure Partners bought it from BAA last December. The airport had one of the most high profile stands – in every sense of the words given that it had a high-wire illusionist floating at the top of the stand (see issue 2 cover picture left) and was in bullish mood about its plans to freshen up the airport and the re-awakening that has happened since the new team have come onboard. Read the full story here.
Other big stories included Mexico which, especially given the recent collapse at Mexicana, is seeing added interest. Click here to read about the US carriers Spirit Airlines and Frontier’s plans to expand in Mexico and elsewhere in Central America, while click here for more on why Mexican airports operator ASUR expects a rapid recovery at Cancun airport.
There is also loads on Canada, including the challenges in establishing Vancouver airport as a hub between the US and Asia; British Columbia’s plans revealed during Routes of boosting Vancouver’s international hub traffic by scrapping aviation fuel tax on international flights; the downtown battle in Toronto now Air Canada and Westjet are to join Porter at the city’s downtown airport; the frustrations of Middle East carriers like Emirates and Qatar in expanding in Canada; and Montreal’s hopes of securing a direct Beijing service for 2011.
For all this and more check out our dedicated Routes page here.