ESTONIA – Estonian President and EU Transport Commissioner welcome 85 airlines in Tallinn

Routes Europe, now in its 7th year, has seen a record number of attendees when the 2012 event opened in Tallinn. The event was hosted by Tallinn Airport at the Radisson Blu Hotel Olümpia in Estonia’s historic capital.

routeseurope.jpgOver 175 airline delegates representing 85 of Europe’s leading airlines were represented at Routes Europe, which took place from May 20-22. This amounts to a 35% growth in airline delegate numbers from last year’s event, which was held in Cagliari, Italy, making Routes Europe 2012 the largest European route development event ever.

Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of the Republic of Estonia, opened a Networking Evening, which included the Routes Airport Marketing Awards, on Monday, May 21, at Tallinn Song Festival Grounds. Routes Europe 2012 has been the largest event ever to take place in Estonia after the Eurovision Song Contest in 2002.

For the first time ever, Routes Europe 2012 opened with the Routes Europe Strategy Forum. A keynote address from Mr. Siim Kallas, Vice President European Commission, responsible for transport, opened the forum on Sunday, May 20.

Flag carriers were strongly represented in Tallinn with 6 delegates in attendance from Lufthansa and registrations also received from CSA-Czech Airlines, Turkish Airlines, SAS Scandinavian Airlines, Estonian Ai, and Alitalia. In addition, a significant low-cost carrier presence was also present with registrations from Ryanair, easyJet, Norwegian, Germanwings, Vueling,,, and airberlin, which made its inaugural appearance at Routes Europe this year. Also attending the event for the first time was Spanish start-up carrier Volotea.

“We had a record number of delegates at Routes Europe this year,” said David Stroud, Executive Vice President Airports, Routes for UBM Aviation, “This growth is beyond even our expectations, and we are delighted that Routes Europe continues to attract the key decision makers from the region and plays an important role in shaping Europe’s future networks.”

“Estonia’s aviation market is the fastest growing in Europe, and Tallinn Airport is almost there to becoming the coziest airport in the world,” said Erik Sakkov, Member of the Board for Tallinn Airport, “That’s why we felt there was no better place to host the top event of European aviation industry, and we were incredibly honored to do just that. As a small country, we know perfectly well why Estonia and Tallinn are a perfect travel destination, but much of the international travel industry is not aware of it yet. By hosting Routes Europe 2012 we were determined to correct that issue.”

A panel of leading industry experts took part in a number of moderator-led discussions during the Strategy Summit, which addressed issues affecting aviation and route development across the region. Sessions covered The Eurozone Crisis, the impacts of regulation, and explored whether now is a good time to sell an airport. High-level delegates involved in the panel sessions included, among many others, Mr. Tero Taskila, President & CEO of Estonian Air; Mr. Fernado Estrada, Strategy & Alliances Director for Vueling; Mr. Kjartan Jonsson, Director Network Planning for Icelandair; Mr. Eric Herbane, Head of French Airport Slot Coordination, EUACA; Mr. Wojciech Prokopowicz, Investor Relations for Warsaw Modlin Airport; and Mr. Zafer Mese, Airline Marketing, Business Development & Investments Europe for TAV Airport Holdings.

In addition to the one-to-one meetings taking place at the event, this year’s Route Exchange program saw 5 carriers deliver an overview of their route development opportunities and how airports can be part of their airline expansion. The carriers delivering briefings, which were open to all attending airports, were easyJet, Monarch Airlines, Ryanair, SkyWork Airlines, and Volotea.