Spain's Catalan capital is the destination for World Routes 2017. Future Airport looks ahead to the only air service development forum that operates on a global scale, at Fira Gran Via in Barcelona on 23-26 September.
World Routes is a major annual event in the aviation industry that brings together airlines, airports and tourism authorities to discuss future air services. It moves to a new city every year to highlight different aviation markets.
This year's event will be hosted by the Government of Catalonia with the support of Barcelona City Council. The event is expected to attract around 3,000 delegates from 300 airlines, 700 airports and 130 tourism authorities who will be seeking new route opportunities.
Some of the world's biggest airlines have already registered, including American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia, Delta, Etihad, Emirates, Air Asia, Japan Airlines, Norwegian and LATAM.
Barcelona's tourism industry has developed rapidly since hosting the Olympic Games in 1992. Antoni Gaudí's famous architecture, the medieval Gothic Quarter, museums, restaurants and beaches brought nearly nine million tourists to the city last year, an increase of more than seven million since 1990.
Barcelona-El Prat Airport has benefitted from the tourism boom that was supported by the opening of a third runway in 2004. A record 44.1 million passengers were handled in 2016, up 11.2% from 2015. The airport is Vueling's main base and a hub for Air Nostrum, easyJet, Norwegian and Ryanair. It is also a focus city for Air Europa and Iberia.
IAG is launching its new low-cost, long-haul airline, LEVEL, from Barcelona this summer with flights to Los Angeles, Oakland, Buenos Aires and Punta Cana. The move is widely believed to be driven by Norwegian's decision to set up a long-haul base from the airport with flights to Los Angeles, Oakland, Fort Lauderdale and Newark.
New services to Shanghai (Air China), Chicago (American Airlines), Boston (Azores Airlines) and Seoul (Korean Air) have expanded Barcelona's route network this year, and Cathay Pacific will offer a seasonal link to Hong Kong between July and October.
In addition, Barcelona is the busiest cruise port in Europe and the fourth busiest in the world. Nearly four million passengers passed through it last year and a second cruise terminal will open in 2018. Most cruise passengers fly to Barcelona so the city's aviation and cruise industries support each other's growth.
Steven Small, brand director of Routes, says: "Hosting World Routes will help Barcelona to win new air services that will further 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 an ideal destination for World Routes, and a highly attractive market for the aviation industry. Our delegates will find a great deal of value in the event."