In April 2014, the ninth Routes Europe, will take place in Marseille, hosted by Marseille Provence Airport.

The Marseille Provence region was founded over 2,600 years ago, and Marseille is the second-largest city in France after Paris and the regional capital of southern France. Combining Mediterranean mildness with Provence’s quality of life, the area attracts ten million tourists every year. World-class sites such as Aix-en-Provence, Arles, Avignon, Provence and St Tropez as well as ski resorts in the southern Alps are all within easy reach.

Marseille Provence Airport in south-east France, on the Mediterranean, is ideally located at the intersection of air, rail and road networks. It is the gateway to the South of France – to Marseille, to Provence and to the French Riviera. In 2012, the airport registered the strongest growth among major French airports, and came in fourth out of the 80 largest airports in Europe, according to ACI.

With 8.3 million passengers in 2012 and 13% growth, Marseille Provence Airport gained a million passengers in one year. As of 2013, Marseille Provence Airport is connected to 30 countries, with 28 scheduled carriers flying into 100 different airports. Travellers from Marseille and the Provence region are taking advantage of this widening network to travel more, and increasing numbers of tourists are also flying into the region.

Marseille Provence Airport continues to extend its catchment area by improving ground transportation to and from the airport. This year, over a million passengers will travel to Marseille Provence Airport on public transport; its excellent ground transportation system is already serving a wide catchment area of 2.8 million people within a one-hour drive and 6.4 million people within a two-hour drive.

After several years of some of the biggest urban investments and building projects in Europe, the new Marseille is ready and waiting at the heart of the ever-gorgeous Provence. With its new hotels, luxury shopping centres and museums, Marseille ranked second in the recent New York Times list of ‘Places to Go This Year’.

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Routes Europe is the largest of the regional route development events organised by Routes and has seen year-on-year growth with over 1,100 delegates, including more than 100 airlines, from across Europe and beyond, expected to attend. This annual event is the only network planning conference where airlines, airports and tourism authorities meet to discuss route development for the entire European region. With more than 5,000 route development meetings taking place over three days, the event offers an unrivalled platform for airlines and airports to do business with the key decision-makers in the industry.

Along with the face-to-face meetings, there will be a strong exhibition element. The event will open with the Routes Europe Strategy Summit, which will bring together under one roof thought leaders and decision-makers from across the aviation sector. The summit, which is open to all Routes Europe delegates and promises to be a thought-provoking start to the event, will provide valuable insights into aviation across the region during a number of moderator-led panel discussions addressing the hottest topics facing the industry.

Route Exchange Airline Briefings will, once again, be a key feature of the event. These live airline briefings from key carriers and senior personnel will outline opportunities for airline growth, provide an opportunity to discuss their requirements to their target airport market and invite airports to bid for new service. In 2013, Route Exchange Airline Briefings were delivered by, among others, Air France, Darwin Airline, easyJet, Germanwings, Lufthansa and Skywork Airlines, and details of the 2014 briefings will be available soon.

Speaking at the 2013 Routes Europe event in Budapest, Pierre Régis, managing director of Marseille Provence Airport, commented: "Marseille Provence Airport is proud and honoured to host the Routes Europe event in 2014, and to share all of the new opportunities that are being unveiled at this very moment, as the ‘new Marseille’ is 2013’s European Capital of Culture."