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8th annual Routes Asia

Routes Asia strategy forum carries positive message for the region’s aviation industry

As the Strategy Forum at the 8th annual Routes Asia (18-20th April) came to a close, there was a strong feeling of positivity for the aviation industry in the Asia Pacific region as the steps towards a full recovery were highlighted by the keynote speaker, Brett Godfrey, and the panellists.

Brett Godfrey, Chief Executive and Co-Founder of Virgin Blue Airlines Limited, spoke of the changes within the region, commenting: "Adelaide is a fantastic example of transformation in this decade in the Asia Pacific region today. It is a shining example of clever thinking."

Since Godfrey set up Virgin Blue, the market has changed at an unprecedented rate, with deregulation in the Asia Pacific market turning the domestic market into a thriving one, but he went on to say that the new low-cost carriers must not become “Legacy LCCs” and must continue to “think ahead of the curve”.

The Forum comprised three sessions throughout the day; ‘The Asian Consolidation Model’ came first, discussing whether the market is likely to see airline consolidation in Asia, as has been the case in Europe and America, and whether the larger carriers are going to get bigger, and if that will lead to the smaller carriers turning boutique or getting pushed out of the game.

Session two, ‘Winning the Airlines’, addressed the question: ‘What are the key things that influence airlines in starting a new route?’ Joseph Lopano of Dallas Airport answered: “Everything is dependent on the data showing a sustainable route, and the airline needs to develop a relationship of trust with the airport. After all, it can take three to four years to bring a route in." He also made it clear that tourism spending, organic growth and business development are all important factors that influence airlines. "The market needs to sustain profitability," he added.

The final session of the day, The Recovery Road, saw the panellists discussing the strength of the Australian currency and how that has translated to stronger outbound traffic, and suggesting that the strongest growth is likely to occur within intra-Asian traffic.

As a closing point, Adelaide Airport’s Managing Director, Phil Baker, spoke about the airport’s plans for growth: "Our intent is to grow our own local market, we don’t have that many international carriers, but those that are flying here are doing well. We have a target list of airlines we speak to regularly and have a plan in place to work closely with the State government."

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