Routes Americas 2021: “beating on an open door – the feedback we’ve had could not be more positive”

Steven Small, Brand Director, talks to

No Small achievement: “In the past three years, over 875 new routes in the Americas market are connected to meetings at Routes events – about half of all new route activity – that statistic demonstrates the level of engagement that takes place at Routes.”

In a first for the route development community, Routes Americas is going ahead next month (Orlando, 23-25 June), marking a much-anticipated return of face-to-face networking. Much has changed in the industry over the past 18 months, but what hasn’t changed is the huge appetite for airlines to meet face-to-face and the importance of meaningful, personal relationships between airlines and airports.

Steven Small, Brand Director, Routes, highlights some key figures that are a true statement of the industry’s desire to engage in-person: 166 organisations are currently registered to attend, including 33 airlines and 62 airports, and the numbers are growing. “We have a real mix of the Americas, not just North America. There’s real strength in our airline engagement already and a response from the community that has been accelerating.”

Building on the success of the virtual Routes Reconnected events, Routes Americas 2021 will combine live and online elements in a hybrid platform, ensuring a “vital virtual Routes experience” for those who still can’t travel.

“In the past three years, over 875 new routes in the Americas market are connected to meetings at Routes events – about half of all new route activity – that statistic demonstrates the level of engagement that takes place at Routes,” says Small. “Our hybrid event will deliver a platform for airports and destinations to present route propositions to the empowered airline decision-makers as they look to rebuild their network and reintroduce capacity back into the market.”

Spirit, Frontier, JetBlue lead speaker line-up

The Routes Americas 2021 conference programme features a mix of keynote interviews and panel discussions. Speakers already confirmed include:

  • Peter Cerdá, Regional Vice President, The Americas, IATA
  • Andrea Lusso, Vice President, Network Planning, JetBlue Airways
  • John Kirby, Vice President, Network Planning, Spirit Airlines
  • Roger Dow, President & CEO, U.S. Travel Association
  • Vicki Jaramillo, Senior Director Marketing & Air Service Development, Orlando International Airport
  • Barry Biffle, President & CEO, Frontier Airlines
  • Ted Christie, President & CEO, Spirit Airlines
  • Norbert Onkelbach, CCO Lima Airport

“It’s a top-level speaker line-up and there’s more to be announced,” says Small. “We want to ensure that as many of the network planning community as possible, including the airlines, can engage with the conference, so the programme is arranged flexibly around the meeting schedule.”

Visit Florida support; MCO-hosted networking

Routes is, of course, looking to maximise the networking opportunities in Orlando. A Welcome Reception will take place on 23 June, followed by a Networking Evening hosted by Orlando International Airport on 24 June – Small reveals that what the airport has planned is “creating real excitement”.

“While Routes Americas is not a formally-hosted event, the support and flexibility we’ve received from Visit Florida, and from Vicki Jaramillo (Senior Director Marketing & Air Service Development) and the team at Orlando International Airport has been fantastic.”

The 2.5-day event finishes at lunchtime on Friday 25 June, offering the network planning community the opportunity to engage with what Orlando and Florida has to offer, including the theme parks and leisure facilities. “Being able to extend stays is a real option for people who attend,” says Small.

World Routes: “bringing the global community together”

Routes Americas, and the desire to meet face-to-face as a network planning community, will build excitement for World Routes in Milan, 10-12 October 2021.

“We’re really optimistic about World Routes – the feedback we’ve received couldn’t be more positive around the willingness to attend,” says Small. “As travel restrictions begin lifting, we’re seeing more and more interest in World Routes. The team in Milan also couldn’t be any more positive. It will be a special time to bring the global network planning community together.”


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