The Barcelona Air Route Meeting will bring together representatives of the main intercontinental airlines to work on restoring Barcelona's intercontinental air connectivity.
The Barcelona Air Route Meeting Week is an innovative virtual event organized for the first time by the Barcelona Air Route Development Committee (BARDC), which will take place during the week of September 14-18, 2020 with the aim of meeting with most of the intercontinental airlines operating in Barcelona. The main objective is to recover the 47 intercontinental destinations that Barcelona had in 2019. In order to achieve this, BARDC wants to open threads of communication and dialogue with all companies to ensure their return to the city as soon as possible and keep the plans of the companies and the local economic and social situation updated. In these virtual meetings, the companies will have the opportunity to talk to the main agents of the city and the territory.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the BARDC has been very active in minimizing the impact the health crisis has had on the air sector and, in particular, on-air connections from Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport. Also due to the health crisis, an aeronautical contingency group was created that has made an Action Plan and held weekly meetings to evaluate the situation and take the pertinent measures to minimize the negative effects and see the options in the short and medium-term. Thus, this group has facilitated the return of companies such as Qatar Airways, Etihad, Singapore Airlines, Emirates Airlines, Level, among others. The four members of the BARDC participated in these meetings: Barcelona City Council, Generalitat de Catalunya, Chamber of Commerce, and AENA, as well as other relevant partners: Catalan Tourism Agency, Barcelona Tourism, Barcelona Fair, Port of Barcelona, and ACCIÓN.
The Action Plan has four basic objectives:
- Recover intercontinental connectivity
- Track European connectivity and domestic flights
- Transmit an image of a safe city/territory for travel
- Act as a one-stop-shop for airlines with competent and relevant institutions and entities.
Likewise, BARDC expects to present its next Strategic Plan 2021-2024 at the beginning of 2021, once better visibility of the sector in the medium/long term has been achieved.
However, intercontinental traffic is the most sensitive to recovery. Right now Barcelona has direct connections with 11 intercontinental destinations. Occupancy factors of these flights are still very low and therefore the air cargo of these same flights is also important for the viability of the connection during the current crisis period.
Since all companies are cutting back on aircraft and simplifying their connection networks, should some destinations not be able to be reopened in the short term, BARDC will work to prioritize the priority destinations to maintain or recover and evaluate whether an alternative company can operate those that cannot be recovered.
In general, Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport is among the European airports that have recovered more movement during the summer months. This shows the resilience of the destination and gives us reason to believe that, as soon as it is possible to travel more freely and with more guarantees, Barcelona can recover traffic strongly and at a good pace, as has happened in previous crisis situations.