Billed as a unique platform to rebuild long-haul and regional connectivity, the rebooted Air Service World Congress event in London was an intimate yet effective network planning opportunity. Olivia Pilling and Mark Pilling report.
The first post-pandemic World Airline: Air Service World Congress took place at Heathrow in mid-July. It would have been the fifth event in the series if not for an enforced Covid cancellation last year. The conference welcomed over 250 delegates, including 45 airlines, with 60 airports and tourism authorities in attendance and exhibiting.
The conference began on Wednesday 13 July with a presentation from Paul Bobson, vice-president airline service development from Washington Dulles International Airport, who addressed the geopolitical uncertainties, global economic concerns and operational failures across the industry. Whilst the outlook seemed somewhat pessimistic in some respects, Dulles has been able to report some positive news with the addition of four new destinations: Togo, Nigeria, Jordan and Barbados.
Airports and tourist authorities took centre stage in the 1-2-1 meeting room, a hub of burbling activity throughout the conference. The platinum sponsors of the event, Ontario International Airport and Oakland International Airport, promoted their traffic recovery and ideal locations at the event (see subsequent articles), all eager to see the fruits of their growth this summer.
The Washington DC metropolitan area was promoted as America’s fastest-growing population during the pandemic, Ontario was hailing its interconnectivity to all of California’s major attractions, and Oakland touted its ideal location to serve the San Francisco Bay area with convenient road and rail connections.
In further presentations, Umut Gungor, network planning specialist at Turkish Airlines gave a dynamic roundup of the industry’s pre- and post-pandemic capacity changes. Turkish performed better than many during Covid and outlined how it adapted its services throughout the pandemic, increasing cargo capacity where restrictions inhibited passenger revenue and boosting passenger capacity where the summer peaks were building the quickest.
Finally, the dark arts of slot trading were explained by Chris Bosworth, an independent consultant, and former head of the UK’s Airport Coordination Ltd.