Aaaaaaaand they’re off! In October, more than 50 airports and a dozen airlines met in Lexington, Kentucky, for a series of productive meetings and classes during the Sixel Airports Conference. As Sixel’s Official Media Partner, anna.aero gets this exclusive look at the conference – and just how much bourbon it takes to conduct the perfect aviation event. Sixel is an industry veteran, with 20 years of experience helping airports gain and sustain air service. One of the most effective ways the company develops air services is by hosting its own airline-airport conferences. This season’s conference, hosted by BlueGrass Airport (LEX), was one for the record books. The conference sold out months in advance (space is limited to ensure airports get the meetings they need) and keynote speakers included Alla Gorelik, Senior Analyst Route Planning at JetBlue Airways and Benjamin Kaufman, Marketing and Communications Director for Norwegian. And although airport attendance is deliberately small, the conference wasn’t lacking in airline attendance. More than a dozen carriers took two days’ worth of meetings. From stalwarts like Delta Air Lines and regional carriers like Skywest Airlines, the latest Sixel Airports Conference also included international carriers. Both Interjet and Aeromar attended from Mexico, as did European LCC Norwegian. “The exciting part is that many of the airport attendees are in a great position to partner with airlines like Norwegian,” said Mark Sixel, president and founder of Sixel Consulting Group. “Secondary airports in a large metropolitan area – Chicago Rockford or Burlington, Vermont, for example – can provide easy access to important destinations at a much lower cost. This was a strategic factor in inviting the international carriers to our conference, and I’m looking forward to seeing positive results.” The week wasn’t all work. The Sixel conferences are famous for being a good time, and the session in Lexington continued the tradition. The welcome event was held at Keeneland Race Course – “the country’s prettiest race track.” Bets flew as fast as the thoroughbreds on the picture-perfect afternoon. Winners and losers alike moved to the opening dinner at Sabio; the funky, revamped schoolhouse was the ideal spot to celebrate the good bets and drink away the bad. And at the following night’s event, attendees really got a “taste” for what Kentucky is best known for: bourbon. The dinner was held at Woodford Reserve Distillery. Set in the rolling grasslands outside Lexington, the breathtaking historic buildings hosted distillery tours, live music, and of course, a variety of bourbons and drinks. Haunted city walks, VIP airport tours, and excellent Southern hospitality rounded out the conference, proving that Lexington is indeed one of the US’ top places to live. Sixel was quick to capitalise on the conference enthusiasm and announced the dates and locations for the next Sixel Airports Conferences. Join the team in Melbourne, FL, 2-4 April, or in Tri Cities, WA, 1-3 October. Conference space is limited; for more information visit www.sixelconsulting.com.