WORLD ROUTES: The Dawn of a New Era of Route Development

Having enjoyed a wonderful period over the last few years with the Routes division of the UBM business, this year has marked an exciting change for Dave Stroud. He had played a key role in the integration of the independent business into the UBM structure but is now focusing all his energies on leading consulting company ASM. The HUB sat down with the respected executive at ASM's Manchester office ahead of World Routes to find out more about how the network development industry is changing and how we are preparing for a new era in route development. Here are his thoughts:

"Observing over the years, the development of interactions between airports, their stakeholders, and airlines; as well as the changing nature of the world we live in, it has become clear to me that our field is changing fast; we are very much at the dawn of a new era of route development.

"Looking forward, we are entering an age where instant and sustained route profitability will be a prerequisite demanded by airlines. Beyond route start-up incentives and short-term discounts schemes, airlines will require long-term and probably lifetime support partnership agreements. Airports, Tourism Authorities and other partner stakeholders will need to address the financing of air routes as a cornerstone to their route development plans.

"One of the many advances airports have made is the ability to process market data, undertake analytics and produce route traffic forecasts using methodologies that reflect how airlines conduct this evaluation. While this will remain an important skill, it will become a standard that all airports offer.

"There is a shift of emphasis coming. In the world of securing profitable sustainable routes, those who can deliver traffic will be more powerful and more successful than those who are good at analysis. What good is strong technical forecasting if passengers don’t actually support a route?

"Airports will, not only, need to have an in-depth understanding of their catchment but also effective marketing at both the origin and destination of the service. Furthermore, the days of trying to impress an airline with an appreciation of route profit and loss are over, delivering actual profit will be all that matters.

"We live in an era where potential passengers can be reached as social media channels and the application of traveller 'Big Data' become the mainstay for driving traffic to air services. Both our #ASMFacebookTracker and #ASMTwitterTracker analysis have shown how airports are embracing these channels for the promotion of routes and services.

"Beyond this airports will play a major role in the creation of markets and specifically through the development of their Airport Cities and the wider urban Aerotropolis. In the future airports will join their Route Development and Airport City Development management teams much more closely together. Airport Cities depend on air services, and air routes will gain hugely from the new markets that Airport Cities provide.

"The final feature of the new era is to do with speed. We are increasingly used to instant global communication, and as said above, airlines are looking for immediate results. Information and data is becoming universally accessible allowing markets to be researched instantaneously, this will change how we go about our route development task and greatly reduce the timelines for decision making.

"The new era of route development is going to be exciting, extremely fast paced and results driven reflecting World Routes itself."

ASM is providing new era solutions for its clients and you can learn more about their activities by visiting the consultancy's stand during World Routes and speaking to any of its dynamic team.

Richard Maslen

Richard Maslen has travelled across the globe to report on developments in the aviation sector as airlines and airports have continued to evolve and…