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Over 1,200 Aviation Professionals in Marseille for Routes Europe 2014

April 9, 2014 Conferences No Comments Email Email

Routes Europe 2014, the largest regional route development event ever organised by Routes, opened in Marseille this weekend to a record attendance of over 1200 delegates from 70 countries, representing 115 airlines, 380 airports and over 50 tourism authorities.

Speaking at the opening press conference this morning, Pierre Régis, Managing Director of Marseille Provence Airport highlighted the impressive growth rates of this year’s host: “Marseille is the fastest growing airport in France with a 54% growth in passengers over the past ten 10 years, and the third largest cargo airport in the country. Marseille-Provence is also the second most important tourism region in France with 30 million visitors per year.”

Julien Boullay, Marketing and Communications Director of Marseille Provence Airport added that last year alone, the region saw an increase in the number of international visitors of 21% thanks to a growing European and long-haul network: “Our target is 10 million passengers in 2020, up from 8.4 million last year.” The 29 airlines operating out of Marseille will commence numerous new routes this year, including Toronto and the newly announced Moroni in the Comores that will be launched by Air Madagascar on 26 June 2014.

Adrian Newton, Group Director Transport and Technology, at Routes organisers UBM Live said: “Increasingly the global economy is an aviation economy. Air services are the lifelines of a modern economy and one of the biggest assets of a city or region.”

Katie Bland, Director Routes, UBM Live added: “It is a bit like a matchmaking service for the aviation industry. Routes Europe is a unique opportunity for Marseille to present itself to network decision-makers from airlines in Europe, the Middle East, the US and China – the people attending the event are the very people who decide where their airlines will fly in the future.”

Routes Europe 2014 officially opened yesterday with the hard hitting Strategy Summit. The motto of the day could be described as “plus ca change”, as around 20 high-level speakers from Europe and beyond attested to constant change in all parts of the aviation and tourism industry.

In an enlightening keynote speech, Frédéric Gagey, Chairman and CEO of Air France, highlighted the challenges France’s flag carrier has been facing since the beginning of the economic crisis and its struggle to return to profitability. The company has put in place a far-reaching programme to turn around the business, he explained, which includes reducing the number of employees by 10%, or 10,000, since 2011:

“It was a difficult choice, but you have to accept such an evolution when you turn around a company.”

However, cost-cutting measures alone are not sufficient. “You have to show a new commercial perspective as well. We are investing €500m in the improvement of our product.” Air France is also investing in new long-haul services, introducing a Paris-Brasilia service, followed by a new route to Jakarta next summer. This far-reaching “transformation plan” is beginning to bear fruit: Mr Gagey announced that he expects Air France to return to a positive operating margin in 2014.

The reoccurring theme of the day was the “great convergence” of legacy carriers and low-cost airlines. While Air France-KLM and Lufthansa are transferring large parts of their networks to their low-cost subsidiaries, low-fares airlines offer more and more services that have so far been associated with network airlines and increasingly move into large hub airports. With the likes of Norwegian, WestJet and flynas breaking into the long-haul market, the convergence between network carriers and low-cost airlines seems to be gaining even more momentum.

A full report on the Strategy Summit can be found here. A summary of the keynote speech by Frédéric Gagey, Chairman and CEO of Air France, is available here.

The Routesonline news section will be updated with breaking news stories throughout the event.

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