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ROUTES: Aviation still sexy delegates told

Aviation is still a “sexy industry” and a very attractive prospect for investors delegates were told at this year’s World Routes Strategy Summit.

Defending the accusation that the industry has lost its libido, Giorgio Callegari, deputy chief executive of Aeroflot, says that other industries simply do not take the same kind of big risks as airlines or invest capital on the same scale.

“When in any other industry do you have entrepreneurs investing in over 200 aircraft, I mean translate that in to factories, say an aircraft has an average price of $50 million - how many factories can you build for $50 million?,” he says.

Callegari says the likes of Norwegian, Lion Air and Aeroflot, which have made big aircraft orders, are testament to an industry that is prepared to take risks.

“The appeal we have for financial institutions for stakeholders, for governments is extremely high, we just don’t perceive it as such. We are a sexy industry and remain a sexy industry.”

But Angela Gittens, director general of ACI World disagreed, stating that aviation’s very success meant it was no longer a sexy proposition.

“Sexiness has partly to do with scarcity where the in-crowd are doing it but the rest are not. We have become a form of mass transportation and as other emerging world becomes mass transit its going to get less sexy there too.

“I’m not so sure that being unsexy is a bad thing. How to keep the industry and pleasant or go back to being pleasant so that people don’t just have to do it, you have to have aviation but we need to make it something again that you want to do,” she says.

But airports are becoming ever more innovative at generating new revenue and meeting passenger needs says Gittens. By no longer thinking of the passengers as a “captive” market but as consumers with “discretionary income with the time to spend” airports are offering more retail choice, better marketing of products and listening to customer needs.

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