Delegates arrive in Berlin with the industry still struggling to shrug off economic concerns. While airline passenger traffic has been slightly more robust than expected over the first half of the year, the forecast is for stuttering economies to slow this growth. Freight traffic, a usually reliable indicator of trends, has flat-lined since May.
"Speaking to the carriers, there is a more cautious approach to growth, but there is also acknowledgment there will be growth," said Routes managing director Nigel Mayes, summing up the mood of the sector going into the show. "That might be two to three years out, but they need to be looking at growth, otherwise there is a danger that you might miss the upside."
John Strickland, director of aviation consultancy JLS Consulting, expects there to be "cautious optimism" at the show, noting there will still be opportunities, but some of this might be swapping services.
"I think for airports, there is no reason for complacency. You cannot assume a base carrier will stay there. Airports have to be more aware of airline strategies and performance. Several airports have caught a cold when airlines fail or pull out because they couldn't see it coming," he said, while highlighting the shifting dynamics at airports. "You see airports like Gatwick and Malpensa, which would not a few years ago have thought they would have leading low-cost carriers as primary customers."
New route opportunities also emerge through the arrival of new aircraft. One of the most keenly awaited, and some 40 months after its original delivery date, is just about to enter revenue service. Boeing delivered its first 787 Dreamliner to launch customer All Nippon Airways (ANA) in late September and ANA will begin the first routes with the aircraft later this month.