World Routes opens in Abu Dhabi
World Routes 2012, the 18th World Route Development Forum, was officially opened today by Abu Dhabi Airports Company's (ADAC) CEO, James Bennett.
The event, which takes place over four days, will attract 2,800 senior professionals who represent over 300 airlines and 750 airports as well as numerous governments, destinations and tour operators.
There are more airline delegates registered this year than at any previous event, representing all leading airlines including Lufthansa, British Airways, Air France/KLM, Etihad, Emirates, United Airlines, LATAM, COPA, South African, Air China, China Eastern Airlines and Qantas as well as airports from around the globe. The event will also see more senior executives in attendance than in previous years, with 40 airline CEOs and 250 airport CEOs and board members as well as 16 tourism ministers registered to attend. Carriers which have confirmed that their CEO will be in attendance in Abu Dhabi include Kenya Airways, Air Arabia, CSA-Czech Airlines, Etihad Airways, Vueling and Air Seychelles.
Above: Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker (left) surveys the exhibits at World Routes.
On the first day of the event the World Route Development Strategy Summit, which takes place alongside World Routes, was launched with a keynote speech by ADAC CEO, James E. Bennett. The summit provided a platform for industry leaders to discuss key on-going topics that impact this dynamic and ever-evolving industry. Key topics highlighted during the summit included: taxation; rising oil prices; aeropolitics; environmental factors; sustainable route development; economic development; and, general regional perspectives on aviation and its potential for growth.
Along with the summit opening, Routes held a joint press conference with Abu Dhabi Airports Company to announce the launch of the event and to engage with the 180 accredited journalists on Route Development strategies and trends. In addition, the first day of the forum started with meetings held between airlines and airports to seek and plan for new routes.
David Stroud, Executive Vice President, Routes comments: "This year's World Routes might well be the largest commercial aviation event ever held, and it is more than appropriate that it takes place in the Middle East, the fastest growing aviation market in the world. The event demonstrates in an impressive way how dynamic the global aviation sector is, despite the challenging economic and regulatory environment."
"The format is unique, as it is the only event which brings together hundreds of airlines and airports from all corners of the world. Delegates meet for tightly-scheduled face to face discussions over three days with the aim to discuss and agree on new air services. In total, around 16,000 meetings will take place in Abu Dhabi."
H.E. Ali Majed Al Mansoori, Chairman of ADAC, said: "The Middle East region has registered a 17.3% growth in passenger traffic in the first 8 months of 2012, as per the traffic report released by IATA, becoming the fastest growing region in the world. ADAC is extremely proud to host key aviation leaders from around the globe here in the heart of this dynamic region. This world class event will provide a platform to map out plans for growth in the aviation industry, but most importantly will allow Abu Dhabi to showcase its world-class airports and aviation services, and to work even closer with airlines in delivering new routes and destinations to Abu Dhabi airports."
"The aviation sector is one of the 12 sectors that form the Emirate's engines of economic, social and cultural growth and diversification," said Al Mansoori. "Our leaders' recognition that this sector is essential for connecting the Emirate to the world, has been translated to significant investment in air transport, enabling Abu Dhabi International Airport to become one of the fastest growing international airport hubs. This commitment has also allowed Abu Dhabi to establish itself as a global centre for tourism, trade and industry in the sixteen years since Abu Dhabi last hosted the World Route Development Forum."
This year's event programme has been extended to include full days on both Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th with delegates invited to "Experience Abu Dhabi", attend the World Route Development Strategy Summit and further enjoy the unique one-to-one networking, briefing, and meeting opportunities. Exclusive Route Exchange Airline Briefings by airlines such as Etihad, Air Canada, Southwest, Iberia, and Aeromexico will also allow airlines to brief airports directly on their requirements and various market opportunities.
This marks the first time the event has returned to a previous host city. Back in 1996, Abu Dhabi's downtown Hilton Hotel was the setting for the first hosted World Routes event. Sixteen years later, delegates will be able to witness for themselves the immense changes that demonstrate how the city's future as a world class destination is taking shape.