As World Routes marks its 20th anniversary, the global networking event is set for double-digit growth in 2014 as it touches down in the USA for the second consecutive year.

Some 3,000 delegates from over 120 countries are expected to pass through the Routes doors in downtown Chicago over the next three days, significantly more than as the Las Vegas event a year ago, says Routes director Katie Bland. “Overall we’re up 10%. Three hundred of the world’s airlines will be represented, and over 1,000 airports and cities. Ninety two of those are new attendees to Routes.”

The US airport representation stands at 50, while new airline attendees this year include Virgin Atlantic, Qantas and Jetstar group, EVA Air, Cambodia Air, Oman Air, Qatar Airways Cargo, Saudia and FlyNas. “We have over 10% more exhibitors too,” adds Bland.

There has been “minimal” impact on the event’s popularity in the wake of the conflicts and crises that have been affecting some regions, says Brand, although airports in certain parts of the world are not participating as they “have other priorities at the moment”.

Routes is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, having come a long way from that first event in the mid-1990s in Cannes. “It’s incredible how the business has grown over two decades from that first meeting, when 60 people met in a function room in Cannes, brought together by our consultancy ASM,” says Bland.

The US market has really taken to Routes’ airline/airport “speed-dating” concept in recent years. “Airports like Las Vegas and Chicago recognise that it is a highly competitive market and you have to go out and basically pitch for the airline business and that hosting Routes is a vehicle for them to do that,” says Bland.

A regional Routes event will take place in the USA for the first time next year, as Routes Americas touches down in Denver in February. “We’re going to the USA for the first time in 2015, following two great years with World Routes in the USA,” says Bland. “It’s the event for all of the Americas but we’re expecting to see uplift in attendees from both airports and airlines from North America.”

Source: Flight Daily News