ROUTES: Copenhagen seeks Asian lift after US progress

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Copenhagen Airport is sending out a message to Asian operators that Scandinavia is a healthy market as it bids to build on a raft of new long-haul routes to the USA.

SAS has already launched San Francisco flights and increased frequency on its New York's Newark route, while Norwegian's fledgling low-cost long-haul operation will shortly begin flights to Fort Lauderdale and follow this with flights to New York JFK and Los Angeles next year.

Having boosted its transatlantic destinations, next on the long-haul agenda for the airport is to secure more Asian services. "There has been a bit of a hesitation on behalf of Asian carriers," says Copenhagen Airport chief executive Thomas Woldbye, noting their concerns over the weak economies in Europe. "Yes, there are patients in Europe, but Scandanavia is not one of them. We are talking to Korean, Chinese, Indian carriers, saying there is a market here that is sustainable."

The airport has just completed expansion of its Terminal 2, increasing its check-in capacity by around 10% and upgrading its baggage system capability to support a a capacity of up to 30 million passenger annually. The airport handled 23.3 million passengers last year and is on track to handle around 24 million passengers this year says Woldbye.

"Sustaining traffic growth levels is difficult," he adds, but so far has managed to do so. But rather than being tied to a specific growth number - giving the sector's dependence on economic growth - Woldbye prefers to target its growth against its rival airports in the region. "This year I do think we are going to do it."