CHENGDU, China – The annual World Routes air service development forum was officially transferred to the city of Barcelona at a ceremony today (27 September) in Chengdu, China.
World Routes brings together leading airlines, airports and their stakeholders to discuss future global air services. This year’s event culminated with the incumbent host, Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport, passing the World Routes mantle to the Government of Catalonia and Barcelona City Council.
Barcelona’s tourism industry has developed rapidly since hosting the Olympic Games in 1992. Antoni Gaudí’s architecture, the medieval Gothic Quarter, museums, restaurants, tapas bars and the local beaches attracted 7.8 million visitors last year, an increase of 6.1 million since 1990.
As the capital of the autonomous region of Catalonia, Barcelona is the centre of one of Spain’s wealthiest areas. Last year Catalan exports grew by 6.1% to a record-breaking €63.8 billion (25.5% of total Spanish exports) and foreign investment increased by 58% to €4.8 billion.
The city’s success has led to high demand for air services. During the last ten years Barcelona’s international departure capacity has risen from 9.6 million seats to 19 million seats, buoyed by the growth of low-cost carriers such as easyJet, Norwegian, Ryanair and local carrier Vueling. The airport is now the 10th busiest in Europe, handling a record-breaking 39.7 million passengers in 2015 (5.7% more than 2014).
During the same ten-year period the Spanish international market almost doubled in size with capacity increasing by an average annual rate of 6.9%. Based on published flight schedules this year, international capacity is forecast to grow to over 90 million one-way seats, a 15.9% rise on 2015 and the fastest rate of growth since 2007. Spain is now linked directly to 336 different airports, up from 217 in 2006.
World Routes 2017 is expected to draw more than 3,000 aviation professionals from 300 airlines, 700 airports and 130 tourism authorities who will see for themselves what Barcelona has to offer.
Adrian Newton, group director at UBM EMEA (the organiser of World Routes events) said: “Hosting World Routes will help the Government of Catalonia and Barcelona City Council to win new air services which will stimulate the local economy and tourism. World Routes will also support Barcelona’s quest to become the main aviation hub for southern Europe.
“Barcelona’s international popularity makes it a highly attractive market for the aviation industry and our delegates will find a great deal of value in the event.”