Routes World 2023 in Istanbul: A Global Gathering of Aviation Leaders

Routes World 2023 in Istanbul: A Global Gathering of Aviation Leaders

iGA Istanbul Airport successfully hosted thousands of senior executives, tourism delegates, airline suppliers and the presidents of the world’s leading airlines at the 28th edition of Routes World 2023 held in Istanbul from 15th – 17th October, in partnership with the Türkiye Tourism Promotion and Development Agency (TGA). Known as the most prestigious event in the civil aviation industry designed to provide a platform to discuss the future of global air connectivity, Routes World offers an opportunity for airlines and airports to establish new routes that will enhance relationships in trade, tourism and diplomatic fields.


This year’s event in Istanbul brought together more than 600 senior executives representing approximately 260 airlines as well as over 3,300 aviation professionals, reaching a record number of attendees for Routes World. During the course of the three-day event, which included exhibition stands, panel discussions and speeches from leading aviation experts as well as one-to-one meetings and interviews, more than 13,000 collaboration meetings are said to have taken place, showcasing the extensive potential impact of this event. Hosted by iGA Istanbul Airport, known as Turkey’s getaway to the world due to its unique location set across both Europe and Asia, it is no surprise that Routes World saw record attendee numbers this year and offered professionals from around the world the opportunity to gain golden insights from industry leaders.


Among the attendees from the event included airline companies such as easyJet, Delta Air Lines, Air France, Emirates, IndiGo, Japan Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Qantas, Turkish Airlines and Wizz Air, to name a few.


Acting CEO of iGA Istanbul Airport, Selahattin Bilgen, expressed his insights on the success of the event: “Observing a wealth of new partnerships forged in just three days and witnessing first-hand the strategic foresight and productivity employed in shaping our industry’s future was truly invaluable.”


On the 16th October, a Board Member of iGA Istanbul Airport, Mehmet Kalyoncu, participated as a guest on the panel ‘Airports and Cities’ which was moderated by BBC presenter, Aaron Heslehurst. Within this, Kalyoncu emphasised the necessity and importance of airports being designed for people, mirroring the essence of cities. This is reflected in the work and design of iGA itself, which ensures customer satisfaction for every visitor.


Kalyoncu stated, “Every single visitor to iGA Istanbul Airport has personally experienced both the triumphs of our terminal and the substantial enhancements it has ushered into our city’s landscape. Besides striving to leave a lasting impression on all passengers who set foot in our airport, we have done our best to improve Istanbul as well. Our location outside the city centre significantly alleviates city traffic, and people no longer face issues such as missing flights due to traffic as much as they used to. Thanks to our metro line, reaching the city centre by public transport within 25 minutes is possible. Operationally, we are working more efficiently every passing day. We reduced aircraft taxi time to 13 minutes. Additionally, we have decreased carbon emissions by 20% compared to 2019. Sustainability is indispensable to us and we shifted to economies of scale after the climate crisis.”


Stating that the passenger experience team conduct scientific research on how to make passengers with different needs happy, with support from expert psychologists and consultants, Kalyoncu said: “We strive to take into consideration the expectations of passengers from different segments, such as families with children, passengers over the age of 65, the disabled, pet owners and international passengers, and we are proud to be able to facilitate the travel experiences of all our guests from different segments.”


As well as this, Deputy Manager of iGA Istanbul Airport, Ismail Hakki Polat, who is responsible for planning, sat on a panel titled ‘Airport Planning and Master Plans’. On this, Polat stated that although the first things that come to mind when thinking about airports are terminals and runways, the main issue with airport planning is establishing who the space will service. iGA was built from the ground up with a target of 150 million passengers, and has now increased this target to 200 million, and due to this is designed to serve the world.


Additionally, Polat indicated that the experience of the Turkey-Syria earthquakes in February 2023 and the response from iGA is an example of how an airport provides a service beyond its borders. Polat comments: “Within four hours, with volunteers arriving, flights to the region began; and after 96 hours, our operations teams started repairing the runways in the disaster zone. We saw once again during the earthquake how important the efficiency of the infrastructure provided by airports is in terms of the benefits they provide to the country and region in which they are located.”


Routes World 2024 will be hosted in Bahrain. Speaking of this during the handover ceremony on the 17th October, Selahattin Bilgen commented: “It was very valuable to see industry professionals from different countries around the world establish so many new connections in a short period of three days and to witness their productivity and foresight in planning the future of our industry. We are aware of how busy the aviation industry is, so we are grateful for this valuable time. This organisation brought representatives from 215 countries and allowed key players in the aviation industry to come together on a global scale. We wish Bahrain all the best as they host Routes World 2024 next year, and we thank you all for attending Routes World 2023, which has been a huge success.”

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