Up to 300 route development planners and decision makers gathered in Cancun, Mexico for the only network-planning event for all the Americas – the 2nd Routes Americas (February 15-17), hosted by ASUR, Mexico’s leading airports. Over the three days of the event, they discussed air service expansion and performance in an effort to pair up strategies for a way out of the current economic crisis. The general consensus amongst the attendees: route maintenance is a top priority.
“To host Routes Americas for two consecutive years has been an unrivaled opportunity to reinforce our relationships with our customers, showcase the potential of Cancun, and position it as a premier destination,” said Alejandro Vales Lehne, customer and route development director at ASUR. “We are convinced that the forum has provided an excellent platform to foster the development of new services.”
As many as 50 carriers were in attendance, from Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airways, and US Airways to Delta Airlines and American Airlines. The official carrier was Mexicana. More than 140 airports were represented including Akron-Canton Airport, Infraero-Brazilian Airports, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, Quebec City Jean Lesage International Airport, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, and Toluca International Airport. The event was also supported by up to 30 tourism authorities including the Panama Tourism Bureau, Mexico’s Ministry of Tourism, and the St. Lucia Tourist Board, to name but a few.
David Stroud, COO of RDG, on the success of the forum, said, “We are delighted that the event has established itself so fast. In just two years, it has become the premier network-planning event in the region, and the outcome of our 2nd Routes Americas has once again proven that it is crucial to link the different markets of the region, especially in these tough times.”
In addition to the one-to-one meetings, delegates enjoyed a conference on ‘Route Development in Tough Times – Strategies for Survival.’ Also collocated was the 2nd Tourism and Air Services Summit (TAS). Speakers explored the developing markets in the Americas focusing in particular on Guatemala and Colombia against the backdrop of the current global economic crisis. The mood was surprisingly upbeat with industry experts looking forward to and planning for the next upturn. Brand Canada was presented in a coordinated session involving the stakeholders, creating a new and very successful partnership to market a nation with speakers from the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) and the recently-formed National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC).
Various delegates confirmed the success of the forum and the significance of this platform, which links all the markets in the region. John Gibson, vice president, marketing from John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport said: “I came here to get feedback from airlines and to assess the current market situation. The event has once again been very valuable, as I managed to meet with more than 16 carriers. From a networking point of view, Routes Americas allows us to meet carriers from all over the Americas. Because of the strategic location, we get to meet with Latin-American carriers that we, as a Canadian airport, would usually not get a chance to speak to.”
Lee Lipton, director of network strategic planning from Southwest Airlines added: “One of our main objectives at the moment is to gain market intelligence and put an infrastructure in place. We are here at Routes Americas to lay the groundwork for future relationships. The event meets our needs very well, as it gives us the opportunity to build a knowledge base and meet other industry professionals face to face.”