Brussels Airport Named Routes Awards Overall Winner

Credit: Ocean Driven Media

Brussels Airport (BRU) has been crowned the Overall Winner of this year’s Routes Awards, as well as triumphing in the 5-10 million passenger category.

The airport has welcomed the arrival of eight new airline partners since the onset of the pandemic, with Air Belgium, Transavia, and Corendon Airlines opening bases, and SKY express, PLAY, Flyr, FlyOne, and HiSky all beginning operations to the Belgian facility.

Sixteen new destinations were launched or announced in 2021 or 2022, including long-haul flights to Johannesburg, Cape Town and Havana. The success follows the launch of a new corporate strategy.

“We are delighted that our strategy of 'have seats, will travel' is highly appreciated by our airlines,” BRU director aviation development Léon Verhallen said. “We launched new ways of working during the pandemic and successfully launched new initiatives to rebuild the network and regain passenger traffic.”

“Eight new airlines, 16 new destinations, and a passenger traffic recovery up to 82% of traffic in August 2022 are clear evidence of the success of Brussels Airport in our very competitive catchment area.”

In the under 5 Million passenger category, Albrecht Airport Durer Nuremberg (NUE) was named the winner. While recovering from the pandemic has presented an enormous challenge for the entire aviation industry, NUE has achieved this in record speed. Passenger volume for the 2022 summer was at 101% of 2019 levels and more than 20 new destinations were added to the schedule, including routes to Dublin and Valencia.

Athens International Airport (ATH), winner of the 10-17.5 million passenger category, is regaining its position as the hub for one of the fastest growing and dynamic aviation and tourism markets worldwide. During summer 2022, traffic reached almost the same levels as 2019, while the airport has welcomed eight new airlines and 11 new destinations.

Cancun Airport (CUN) triumphed in the over 17.5 million passenger category. The Mexican airport’s recovery has been one of the swiftest in the industry with 48 new routes being added to the schedule last year. Co-ordinated efforts with the Quintana Roo Tourism Board meant that the airport has welcomed several new airlines to its portfolio, including KLM, TAP Air Portugal, Austrian Airlines, Level and Viva Air.

Cape Town Air Access was named the winner of the destination category. After only reaching 31% international passenger recovery in 2020, and 20% in 2021, Cape Town reached a year-to-date recovery of 65%, with July 2022 reaching 87% of 2019 levels. New routes include flights by Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.

More From Routes World 2022

Spanish carrier Volotea secured the airline award. Having transitioned to an all-Airbus fleet, the airline has been able to capitalize on the strategic and operational advantages with its airport partners. In 2022, Volotea has grown capacity by 30% compared to 2019, now offering over 10.4 million seats.

The rising star award was won by Laura Faucon, route development manager at Groupe ADP. In Faucon’s current role, she develops emerging destinations in non-liberal environments. Having previously worked at Virgin Atlantic as a network planning analyst, Faucon received a significant number of wider industry endorsements testifying to the impact she has had to date.

The individual leadership award was won by João Pita, CCO of São Paulo’s GRU Airport. Following the win, he said: “This is a very special moment for me. To be named among the best in the industry is a unique feeling.

“This is an individual award but only possible due to the amazing crew that I have the pleasure to lead at GRU Airport. What they do every day under challenging conditions makes it seem easy. This award is for them. We do nothing alone. Together we can do everything.”

The full list of winners:

Overall Winner

Brussels Airport

Under 5 Million Passengers

Albrecht Durer Airport Nuremberg

5-10 Million Passengers

Brussels Airport

10-17.5 Million Passengers

Athens International Airport

Over 17.5 Million Passengers

Cancun International Airport


Cape Town Air Access



Rising Star

Laura Faucon, Route Development Manager, Groupe ADP

Individual Leadership

João Pita, CCO at GRU Airport

Airport size categories for this year’s Routes Awards were based on 2021 pax data