More than 1000 aviation industry players gathered in Bilbao, Spain in April 2018 for the 13th annual Routes Europe conference to discuss the latest trends in the sector. During the two day conference, an award ceremony and numerous talk panels took place, amid which British airline’s Jochen Schnadt urged UK carriers to take destiny into their own hands, while former CEO of EasyJet reminded his colleagues that good times won’t last forever. Here are the highlights of the event.

Keynotes talks highlights

During the conference in Bilbao, British airline’s BMI Regional Chief Commercial Officer Jochen Schnadt shared his insights about what Brexit may mean for the industry. According to the CCO, it is the ambiguity around Brexit that creates problems. He says that in times of uncertainty airlines have to forge their own path.

“If you take that view - regardless of whether it’s going to be a soft, hard or medium Brexit - we need to create facts that allow us to continue doing what we're doing today. That’s what we’re doing, rather than relying on somebody else to come up with the answers. It’s a case of being the master of your own destiny as much as you can be,” said Schnadt.

On the subject of staying alert to the change in the industry, former CEO of easyJet, Ray Webster talked about the dangers of getting complacent in the ever changing market. According to Webster, aviation companies have to always be on the lookout for the possible increase of oil prices or other destabilizing factors that could cause major problems for the sector.

"Airlines in general have had a very good run. They've been in a position where they have incrementally added to their costs and become less efficient. At some time in the future there's going to have to be a correction,” Webster said.

Speaking about the benefits of the stable economy that created a situation for air travel demand to grow, OAG EVP product development Mark Clarkson suggested that the industry needs to prepare for the increasing pressure. Additionally, the environment also creates opportunities for consolidation in Europe.

Clarkson pointed out that while the top five carriers in the US own 80 percent of the market, in Europe it is only 35 percent. “There is an opportunity for small niche carriers there as big carriers are focusing on their core markets," he said.

Routes Europe 2018 Marketing Awards

During the event, the annual Routes Europe Marketing Awards recognized the most notable marketing services with Brussels Airport winning the top spot. The airport was awarded as the overall winner, additionally taking the win for a category of the airport with over 20 million passengers.

“Brussels Airport has achieved impressive results this year – testament to its innovative marketing campaigns, strong airline relationships and comprehensive understanding of its competitive positioning,” shared Steven Small, the Brand Director of Routes.

The highly commended position went to Oslo Airport, Saint Petersburg Airport, Pulkovo, Belfast City Airport and Visit Finland.

In the category of 4 – 20 million passengers, Budapest Airport took the statue home. Billund Airport was recognized in the Under 4 million passengers category, while Destination category award went to Canary Islands Tourist Board.

Routes Europe 2018 brought together more than 1200 aviation industry professionals who we able to fix nearly 5000 networking meetings with various company representatives including over 100 airlines, 300 airports and 50 tourism authorities. The upcoming Routes Europe 2019 will take place in Hannover, Germany.