Routes Americas 2023 Awards: The Airport Categories

Credit: Ocean Driven Media

Returning for the first time since 2020, the Routes Americas 2023 Awards will celebrate excellence in airport and destination marketing. 

Six awards are on offer this year, including three airport accolades that highlight the organizations that have excelled in route development marketing.

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Split into categories of Under 4 Million, 4-20 Million and Over 20 Million, they showcase the marketing support that airports have provided to their airline partners during 2021 and 2022.

All six awards are voted for and judged by members of the route development community. The winners will be announced on March 22 at Routes Americas 2023.

The finalists in the airport categories are:


Curaçao International Airport, Curaçao

Passenger traffic at Curaçao International Airport (CUR), the gateway to the Dutch Caribbean island, fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels in 2022 helped by a strong rebound from the U.S. market and the opening of the Royal Curacao Sandals Resort last June. The latter opening saw load factors increase by more than 20% on flights from destinations including Miami and Newark. Recovery of 2022 passenger traffic per region compared with 2019 put Europe at 120%, the U.S. at 103%, South America at 93%, Canada at 81% and the Dutch Caribbean at 79%.

Idaho Falls Regional Airport, U.S. 

Idaho Falls Regional Airport (IDA) handled more than 625,000 passengers last year, representing growth of 78% on 2019 levels. Central to the increase has been a collaborative approach with airlines and community stakeholders. An air service development committee, created by Bank of Idaho president Jeff Newgard and local entrepreneurs to incentivize new routes, has supported the launch of several new services, including routes from Portland and Seattle. IDA has also undertaken a digital marketing campaign with tourism organization Yellowstone Teton Territory designed to increase inbound leisure traffic.

Rhode Island T. F. Green International Airport, U.S.

The airport serves a catchment of 7.5 million people around Providence, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Southern Massachusetts. Ten new routes were launched in 2022 and eight have already been announced for this year. Among the carriers expanding from Rhode Island T. F. Green International (PVD) is Breeze Airways, which first began serving the airport in summer 2021. The airline is opening a new base and plans to expand its network to 12 routes during the 2023 summer season. Overall, PVD is connected nonstop to 31 destinations, up from 17 in 2017.

Tulsa International Airport, U.S.

Oklahoma’s Tulsa International Airport (TUL) has welcomed 12 new nonstop routes since mid-2021 with four carriers. A key win during 2022 was American Airlines’ service to New York La Guardia that saw the airport undertake a series of marketing campaigns to support the launch. Campaigns included lighting the Williams Tower, the largest building in downtown Tulsa, with “AA NYC” on the evening of the route’s announcement, and running a competition to win flights to New York that generated almost 1.3 million impressions. TUL’s air carrier incentive program was also expanded to introduce added support during the second year of a new route.


Portland International Airport, U.S.

By summer 2022, Portland International Airport (PDX) had secured all three of its transatlantic markets back in service, as well as adding British Airways’ nonstop flights from London Heathrow—the only new U.S. route launched by the UK carrier during the season. During summer 2023, the airport will have the largest transatlantic seat capacity in its history. It is also working to recover its transpacific network. PDX is currently in the middle of a $2.15 billion capital improvement project called PDX Next that is funded almost entirely by the airlines—something that wouldn’t be possible without long-lasting relationships.

Punta Cana International Airport, Dominican Republic

Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) broke the 8 million passenger milestone for the first time in its history in 2022, beating the previous record of 7.9 million set in 2018. Three new airline partners were secured during the year—Air Belgium, Corsair and TAP Air Portugal—increasing the number of operators serving the airport to 52. As well as carrying out several marketing campaigns to support airlines and highlight infrastructure developments taking place, PUJ also granted concessions to seven carriers to develop and promote routes from Portugal, Colombia, Germany, Spain and Mexico among others.

Santiago International Airport, Chile

Despite Chile being subject to ongoing COVID travel restrictions for the first nine months of 2022, the route development team at Santiago International Airport (SCL) maintained communication with current and future airline partners to help ensure a strong fourth quarter. Three carriers returned to the airport during the year—Air Canada, Qantas and Level—and eight suspended routes resumed. The airport also saw five new routes launch, including JetSmart’s services to Montevideo in Uruguay and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, and LATAM Airline Group’s flights to Curitiba in Brazil.

Vancouver International Airport, Canada

Vancouver International Airport (YVR) witnessed strong growth in both capacity and passenger volumes during 2022, with traffic topping 19 million passengers. This represented year-on-year growth of 168%. The airport has put a recovery strategy in place that centers on four key goals to increase passenger numbers back to 2019 levels of 26 million. Through the strategy and its TeamYVR partnership, the airport saw seat capacity for domestic and transborder routes rise by 74% and 238% respectively, compared with 2021. Thirteen international services also returned, while a new air service development incentive program was launched.

Washington Dulles International, U.S.

During 2022, Washington Dulles International (IAD) added four new markets, three million additional annual seats and three new airline partners. The new service is estimated to have a $200 million annual economic impact. Compared with 2019, capacity to Latin America, Africa and the Middle East was up by 127%, 119% and 113% respectively. The airport launched a revised air service incentive program that includes marketing support of up to $300,000 for unserved markets, as well as starting a retention program to help ensure routes grow and are not cannibalized. For 2023, IAD has already announced 11 new routes and four new airline partners.


Dallas Fort-Worth International Airport

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) celebrated the 49th anniversary of its first commercial airline service in January, which set in motion the growth from a regional airport to the world’s second busiest. During the past 12 months, the airport completed a series of key projects, including opening four redesigned gates at the end of Terminal C. In 2022, it welcomed 72.2 million passengers and launched service to Helsinki on Finnair; Madrid on Iberia; Paris on Air France; Auckland on American Airlines; and Melbourne on Qantas Airways. In March 2023, DFW also secured a $35 million grant from the US Transportation Department to fund two environmental projects.

LAX – Los Angeles World Airports

Passenger traffic topped 65.9 million at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in 2022, representing an increase of 37% on the previous 12 months. The airport is in the midst of a $15 billion capital improvement program that will touch on all nine passenger terminals and build new facilities. Among them is the Tom Bradley International Terminal Core, one of seven new cores that make up the $490 million dollar Terminal Cores project. The project, which is scheduled to complete in 2024, will allow access to all levels of the terminal buildings using escalators and stairs, and provide passengers direct connection to the future people mover train system.

San Francisco International Airport, U.S.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) saw passenger numbers climb by 73% in 2022 compared with the previous 12 months, while capacity jumped by 22%. The airport welcomed Breeze Airways, its first new domestic carrier in almost 15 years, as well as three new international airlines in the form of Flair Airlines, Air Transat and Condor. SFO’s aviation marketing and development team worked on a number of campaigns, including partnering with Virgin Atlantic and San Francisco Travel to promote the airline’s increase service and a collective commitment to serve the LGBTQ community. The campaign picked the UK’s next Top Drag Star, who traveled to SFO to film content.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)

During 2021 and 2022, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) added 16 new routes—nine of which were international, and 10 of which were previously unserved markets. The airport now has more international services, more international destinations, and more international airlines than it did pre-pandemic. New points on its route map include Tahiti, Montreal and Istanbul. SEA’s air service development team offered a range of marketing support to suit each market. With Air Tahiti Nui, the airport partnered with the airline and Tahiti Tourisme for a gala event in Seattle, while Qatar Airways’ new route from Doha was promoted to corporate clients via a World Cup viewing party.

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David Casey

David Casey is Editor in Chief of Routes, the global route development community's trusted source for news and information.