Stockholm Syndrome

Mamma Mia – here we go again … another year, another Routes conference this time in Stockholm. Despite the growing number of regional events the 13th World Route Development Forum attracted a record number of participants including With all meeting halls and exhibition space on a single level and in a single giant hall it was a considerable improvement over other recent events with regards to ease of movement.

But even the biggest Abba fan must have got a little tired of the number of times their music was performed or played during the three days. For those of us returning to London with SAS after the event the sight of a “Mamma Mia” promotional billboard on exiting the jetway at Heathrow’s Terminal 3 seemed to be the final proof that you can overdo a good thing.

Image: Winner OAG Airport Marketing Award
A lucky winner, considering its international access is artificially restricted by the state: Milan Linate’s Maurizio Merenda (left) accepts the OAG Airport Marketing Award in the 5-10 million category from OAG CEO Alan Glass.

Airport marketing award goes to Milan Linate?!

The annual OAG Airport Marketing Awards were presented in the giant marquee behind the rather splendid Stockholm City Hall during a stand-up buffet…also resonating to the sound of even more Abba music.

Once again all four winners were European airports and two were the same as last year. The fact that Milan Linate managed to win one of the top awards suggests that the way airports are nominated probably needs to be rethought. How can an airport to which international access is artificially restricted by the state be awarded a prize for airport marketing?

Most of the airport’s traffic growth in recent years has come on domestic services while on international routes to major European hubs and capital cities major flag carriers either have a monopoly or a cosy duopoly with their foreign counterpart. Regional airlines are forced to use Milan Malpensa or Bergamo if they want access to the Milan market.

So well done Linate, but obviously not too much account taken of actual new routes generated, new carriers attracted, and the creativity involved in the airport’s marketing efforts. However, Alan Glass CEO of OAG, who presented the awards, also defended the voters’ preferences: “These Awards are highly prized by airports because they are voted for by their industry partners – the airline network planning community.”

Image: Marketing award
All the marketing award winners: OAG CEO Alan Glass with Maurizio Merenda, Commercial Director Aviation Business, Milan Linate (winner 5-10 million passengers); Georgios Karamanos, Director Communications and Marketing, Athens (10-25 million passengers); Bernard Lavelle, Commercial Director, London City (less than 5 million passengers); and Wilco Sweijen, Director Aviation Marketing, Amsterdam Schiphol (over 25 million passengers).

The annies

This year is also awarding its own virtual prizes to those organisations who took the time and trouble to create stands and displays in the Networking Village – the annies.

Most Exhilarating Feature:

  • Image: Malaysia Airports racing simulatorWinner: Malaysia airports for its racing simulator which allowed visitors to do laps of the Sepang circuit against the clock.

    Honourable Mention: The Copenhagen Airport darts competition.

Best Use of Chocolate:

  • Winner: Budapest Airport

    Honourable Mention: Fraport for its chocolate fountain and Moscow Sheremetyevo for their cakes.

Best Drinks:

  • Winner: ANA for the port (what else?)

    Honourable Mention: Oslo/Avinor for its stylish VOSS water bottles.

Best Scale Model:

  • Winner: New Doha International Airport for its beautiful terminal design concept

    Honourable Mention: Gothenburg Landvetter Airport for its model of an old ship

Most Glamorous Stand:

  • Image: ASUR Mexican stand

    Winner: ASUR Mexican Airports for their eye-catching display of attractive marketing assistants (who were actually from Sweden).

Most Competitive City:

  • Winner: Moscow. Domodedovo and Sheremetyevo both had full blown mega-stands while Vnukovo was also represented in a booth.

Most Competitive Country:

  • Image: Hyderbad Airport

    Winner: India. GMR had a large stand for Hyderabad and Delhi while Mumbai had a stand of its own. The Airports Authority of India also had a booth of its own.

    Honourable Mention: China for having stands for Hong Kong, Shanghai and Guangzhou plus a booth for Beijing. Also Russia for its mentioned Moscow stands plus numerous regional airports who had booths.


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