The BARDC focuses on recovering Asian transit & increasing key direct intercontinental routes
- The Barcelona Air Route Development Committee (BARDC) once again attended the annual Routes World trade fair in Istanbul, with the participation of all its members – Aena, Barcelona City Council, Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, and the Generalitat de Catalunya, as well as the Catalan Tourism Agency and Barcelona Tourism Consortium.
- This is the most important fair in the world for airlines to meet with destinations and airports to promote air routes. During the 3 days of the congress, the BARDC held a total of 37 meetings with airlines, airports, and government tourism agencies.
- One of the main conclusions is that airlines, especially Asian airlines, are very cautious about restoring pre-pandemic routes and launching new ones. American companies, or those operating in North America, confirm the good results of their routes this year and the intention to study the increase of frequencies that are already operating and to be able to operate new routes and destinations in the near future.
Barcelona, 23 October 2023 – The Barcelona Air Route Development Committee (BARDC) participated, as they usually do, in Routes World 2023, which was held in the city of Istanbul from 15 to 17 October. Routes World is the benchmark event that brings together airlines, airports and other stakeholders interested in the growth of existing routes and the development of new ones.
The BARDC held a total of 37 meetings with airlines, airports, and Government Tourist Agencies. Nearly half of these meetings were with Asian airlines that have returned to Routes World after years of closure due to the pandemic in both the Chinese and Japanese markets. All showed their interest in exploring opportunities to open routes to several destinations which are as yet unserved and have great potential.
The BARDC continues to act as the only point of contact for airlines to promote new intercontinental routes at Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport, to strengthen existing routes, and to facilitate the re-establishment of routes yet to be recovered. For this reason, the BARDC has the collaboration and support of various institutions and organizations in the region and city of Barcelona involved in the economic promotion of the destination, such as Barcelona City Council, Barcelona Tourism Consortium, the Catalan Tourism Agency, ACCIO, the Port of Barcelona, and Barcelona Catalonia Logistics Centre, among others.
Outlook for 2023 and 2024
According to Eurocontrol, in number of flights in Europe compared to 2019, there should be 98% recovery by the end of March 2024. Intercontinental routes, which are the most complex, are not yet fully recovered at the global or European level.
Airlines are facing difficulties in the delivery of aircraft orders and also due to the shortage of crews, and above all pilots. In general, they expect to receive aircraft that could affect new routes or route growth in Barcelona as of 2024, but might even have to wait until 2025.
In the case of Barcelona, the route to Shanghai and Hong Kong in Asia and Lima in Latin America have yet to be restored. The recovery of Pakistan (Islamabad, Sialkot and Lahore) is also pending, as the country is still subject to security restrictions imposed by the EU. The rest of the continents are fully recovered in terms of destinations in 2023; even new routes have been opened or capacity increased on existing routes by other operators, such as Shenzhen Airlines to Shenzhen, United Airlines to Chicago; and capacity increases such as those by Avianca to Bogotá or LEVEL in general. We should also remember the launch of the new Kuwait route by Kuwait Airways.
Among the priorities or ideas that the BARDC has put forward with several representatives are
- The need for Air China to recover Shanghai and gradually increase frequencies on the Barcelona-Beijing route according to demand.
- Shenzhen Airlines, on the Barcelona-Shenzhen route, the possibility of increasing frequencies, as already announced in August 2023, when the route was launched.
- The possibility that Cathay Pacific could choose Barcelona to re-launch in the summer of 2024, as part of their plan to re-establish more destinations to more cities in Europe.
- The recovery of Emirates frequencies and seats now that Asia-Pacific traffic appears to be on the road to full recovery.
- Seeing which operators can operate a Barcelona-Lima route, which has seen a growth in high indirect demand; or even how to meet the growth in demand for Colombia-Barcelona.
- The possibility of having a direct link to Delhi (India) beyond 2024, by taking advantage of the major purchase of aircraft and restructuring of Air India.
Meanwhile, North America is consolidating its position as the most important market with the best connectivity to/from Barcelona, but it is still not enough, as shown by the latest studies in which indirect demand is for over 1,200,000 tickets (22 August – 23 July according to Sabre O&D data). In fact, the airlines operating in the United States, such as American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Level (IAG), and United Airlines, highlighted the positive evolution and increase in demand during the summer of 2023, from Barcelona to New York, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Washington, Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. American Airlines even announced the launch of the Barcelona-Dallas route this summer, and LEVEL has also announced the Barcelona-Miami route for the summer of 2024.
Barcelona is a globally recognized brand and the members of the BARDC are aware that high interest in the city and the region continues, as well as the resilience and competitiveness of its brand worldwide.