Routes Europe 2023 Awards: The Destination And Airline Categories

The Routes Europe 2023 Awards ceremony will honor the outstanding achievements of our industry in restoring and advancing global air connectivity.

The Destination Award champions the assistance provided by destinations to their airline partners, while the Airline Award celebrates the importance of partnership in achieving successful and profitable routes.

Explore News And Analysis From Routes Europe 2023

In total, six awards will be up for grabs and all six are voted for and judged by members of the route development community. The winners will be announced on May 10 at Routes Europe 2023.

The finalists in the Destination and Airline categories are:


Canary Islands Tourist Board – Promoter

The Canary Islands are emerging as one of the fastest tourist destinations in recovering pre-pandemic levels, both in terms of capacity and passengers. All the airlines that used to operate in the islands have returned, and several new ones like United Airlines, airBaltic, Air France, Play, and Swiss have been attracted. With tourism accounting for nearly 40% of the GDP and employment, Promoter is behind a comprehensive strategy to further improve air connectivity. This includes lobbying Spanish airports group AENA, collaborating with airlines and tour operators, offering incentive schemes, leveraging tax benefits, and implementing innovative marketing techniques.

ENIT – Italian National Tourist

Italy recorded more than 50 million tourist arrivals in 2022, and this number is projected to continue increasing in the current year. According to a survey conducted by ENIT, 14.6% of the tourists are expected to be from Spain, 12.7% from the US, 12.3% from Switzerland, and 12.2% from Austria. ENIT is actively working to explore new markets, including India and Kazakhstan. In an effort to attract more visitors from India, the organization collaborated with stakeholders in the country and promoted the launch of ITA Airways’ Rome-Delhi service. Additionally, ENIT’s participation in the Kazakhstan International Tourism Fair demonstrates its commitment to engaging with potential tourists from the Central Asia country.

Jordan Tourism Board

In 2022, Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) launched large-scale marketing campaigns in Western and Central Europe, including major countries like France, UK, Spain, and Germany. It recently unveiled a similar campaign in Eastern Europe utilizing outdoor advertisements. The efforts of the JTB have yielded positive results—according to the World Tourism Organization, Jordan ranked 10th globally in tourism sector recovery rates. The number of point-to-point routes is also on the rise, with Ryanair, easyJet and Wizz Air among the carriers to streamline up service in 2022 and 2023.

Maltese Tourism Authority

Tourism numbers to Malta reached about 2.3 million during 2022, marking an 83% recovery compared with pre-pandemic levels. The Polish, Austrian, Italian, and French markets surpassed the arrival numbers of 2019, when Malta received the highest number of tourists ever. Overall, tourism generated some €2 billion ($2.2 billion) in 2022. New routes launching to the island in 2023 include Air Malta’s summer services to Tel Aviv, Nice, Palermo and Naples. In addition, there will be an increase in frequency in some existing key markets, including Geneva, Paris and Munich.

Visit Cyprus

Cyprus welcomed more than 3 million tourists last year, up from 1.8 million in 2021, despite the impact on arrivals caused by the war in Ukraine and sanctions imposed against Russia. However, the country successfully managed the decrease in Russian tourists, as increased arrivals from EU countries like Poland, Denmark, Germany, France and Hungary, were recorded. Cyprus has already enjoyed a strong start to the year, with a 61% year-on-year increase in tourists during the first quarter of 2023. It hopes that the figure for the current year will be up by about 10% in 2022.



Latvian airline airBaltic expanded its network to 74 destinations and operated 103 routes in 2022, a significant increase from the previous year. The airline launched 12 new services, including leisure destinations such as Batumi, Gran Canaria, Malta, and Marrakesh. It also established a base in Tampere, Finland, with seven non-stop routes. Additionally, the airline will launch a record-breaking 20 new routes in 2023. AirBaltic has fostered innovative collaborations with airports and tourism boards, enabling it to expand its presence and promote destinations effectively. Work has included digital marketing campaigns with Dubai Tourism and the National Tourism Office of Morocco among others.


SunExpress, a joint venture between Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines, has diversified its network since the pandemic, with an increased focus on the UK and Central and Eastern Europe. The airline plans to add six new airports and 26 new routes to its network in 2023, while its fleet will increase to 60 aircraft this year, up by 27 on 2019 levels. In its efforts to enhance connectivity, SunExpress has been forming partnerships with an increasing number of airlines, aiming to stimulate the transfer of traffic through interline and codeshare agreements. It has also established a successful collaboration with Air Cairo, exclusively handling its commercial capacity in the Germany, Austria and Switzerland market.

Turkish Airlines

Star Alliance member Turkish Airlines carried 71.8 million passengers during 2022, just 3% below pre-pandemic levels. The airline added 20 aircraft during the year, taking its fleet to almost 400 aircraft, and launched new routes to destinations including Seattle and Bukhara, Uzbekistan. New services for 2023 include operations from Istanbul to Banjul, Gambia; Katowice and Krakow, Poland; and Palermo, Italy. Turkish Airlines expects to expand its fleet to 235 aircraft this year and be operating over 800 by 2033. It has also set a target of increasing passenger numbers from a forecast of 85 million in 2023 to 170 million by 2033.

Wizz Air

Wizz Air is aiming to add 15 million passengers this year through organic growth and market stimulation. Since the pandemic, the Hungarian ULCC has expanded through the purchase of Norway’s Gatwick slot portfolio and the establishment of a new airline in Abu Dhabi. It has also expanded its presence in the UK, Italy, Albania and Romania among others. In April 2023, Wizz announced a £5 million ($6.2 million) investment in biofuel company Firefly, marking its first equity investment in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) research and development. The investment seeks to enable a supply of SAF to Wizz operations from 2028.

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