News Tourism, Trade and Consumer

Routes Europe to be a major boost to the air connectivity of the Basque Country and to its international outreach

2018 March 19

Routes Europe 2018, the most important international conference on air connectivity, will be held in the Basque Country this year.
The BEC will host this European event that is expected to bring together 1,100 professionals between 22 and 24 April.
The Basque Country will showcase its potential through its strong multimodal air connectivity infrastructures with the land/maritime networks and its varied tourist offering.

The Basque Government’s Minister for Economic Development and Infrastructures, Arantxa Tapia, its Minister for Tourism, Trade and Consumers, Alfredo Retortillo, the Provincial Councillor for Public Administration and Institutional Relations, Ibone Bengoetxea, and the Mayor of Bilbao, Juan Mari Aburto, have today presented Routes Europe 2018. It is the most important international event on air connectivity and the Basque Country is the venue for the European gathering in 2018.

During his speech, Minister Retortillo explained that “Routes brings together the three main stakeholders in the design and implementation of air connections: the airlines, airports and destinations”. Therefore, “holding Routes 2018 in Bilbao places the Basque Country centre stage in Europe where new connections will be assessed and decided for the medium and long term. It is a unique opportunity to showcase our capacities and infrastructures, along with what our country has to offer as a travel destination, to the most important opinion leaders in air connectivity”.

This conference, in the words of the Minister, “must be an opportunity to improve our own connectivity, which will make us even more attractive as a destination”. Yet it will also, he added, “lead to an increase in the opportunities and destinations for Basque citizens".

Minister Arantxa Tapia stressed that “Routes is an opportunity to showcase Euskadi-the Basque Country to the world as a highly connected territory, an opportunity to be able to offer the people who design and manage world air activity, the potential of the airports of the Basque Country and their strategic situation in Southwest Europe with the added value of a comprehensive and efficient intermodal system, thanks to our ports, roads, railway network and logistic platforms”.

Tapia pointed out the importance of cooperation and joint planning.  She explained that the “Basque Government has developed the Basque airport management model based on the complementarity that includes the three airports of Hondarribia/Donostia, Loiu/Bilbao and Foronda/Vitoria: one airport, three terminals”.

In turn, Ibone Bengoetxea, the provincial councillor, stressed that Bizkaia is the main gateway to the Bay of Europe, in the European Southern Atlantic, and she referred to the top-tier international events that Bizkaia will host in the coming months. “I am referring to the European rugby finals in May, the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards in June and the MTV European Music Awards in November.”

Bengoetxea explained that “this is possible as our province has everything needed to be the best venue for this type of global events and, of course, with exceptional international connectivity. Bizkaia is currently one of the most attractive places in Europe to do business, invest or visit, thanks to our work to ensure Bizkaia is connected to the world, which is one of the strategic focal points of the Provincial Council".

The Mayor of Bilbao Juan Mari Aburto, highlighted the great importance of Routes 2018 as “it is a great opportunity for Bilbao to improve the international positioning of our city in the world, by means of the air routes”.

Aburto positively assessed the future impact of this congress that “is an exceptional opportunity to position ourselves as a leading tourist destination and as to give momentum to improving the connectivity of Bilbao with the world. We want to improve our connectivity with Europe and the world, either with the high speed train, improving the railway network, through the port or through airlines that use and will use Bilbao airport”.

Routes Europe 2018

Routes Europe 2018 will be held at the BEC-Bilbao Exhibition Centre, even though it will benefit the 3 provinces. This event will help to position the Basque Country internationally and will bring economic benefits to our destination. It will have a forum of over 1100 professionals from the sector: 110 airlines, 300 airports, tourism and transport authorities, along with top-notch speakers.

It is the main meeting forum for airports, institutions and the main airlines. The institutional presence at that event has been classified as strategic in order to optimise the possible promotion of Basque Airport and the Basque Autonomous Community (BAC) as a destination for potential air connections.

The event is a meeting point between the suppliers of operational capacity (Airports), with that capacity being segmented into SLOTS, and the demand for them from the airlines. The three airport promotion companies (VIA, BilbaoAir and Ortzibia) will be there with a busy meeting schedule.

Basque infrastructures for connectivity

Routes 2018 is an opportunity for the delegates to see in situ the Basque infrastructures, air traffic and their commercial activities, along with the intermodal structure with the other transport systems, both for passengers and for freight, and will also be able to discover new opportunities associated to them.

The Basque Country is committed to a policy to provide a modern airport system that is efficient and financially and economically sustainable, where the airports have complementary strategies and a common framework for action, which is completely integrated with the territory and which promotes cohesive social and economic development.

Tourist promotion

The Basque Country will also be able to showcase its tourist potential thanks to the specific promotion run during the Routes event. The delegates will be able to choose from different guided tours of the 3 provinces in the days before the event so that they can discover the most outstanding tourist resources and their accessibility and proximity. 

They will also have the chance to enjoy the local cuisine, one of the tourist mainstays, and the urban sights, particularly in Bilbao where the main events will be held at the Euskalduna Conference Centre and Azkuna Zentroa, as well as during the visits that will include to the Old Town and the Guggenheim Museum.

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Politicians attending the event
(XI term 2016 - 2020)
Other guests
  • Juan Maria Aburto; Ibone Bengoetxea Otaolea