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Connect: the latest conference to discuss tomorrow’s airlines...

45 airlines companies and 180 airports were present


The 11th edition of the show Connect brought together airports and airline companies to negotiate all the new services of the future. Also an opportunity for Morocco, host of the event, to unveil the ambitious development strategy of its airline industry.



The opening ceremony of the Marrakech Connect room. Connect DR 2014.
The opening ceremony of the Marrakech Connect room. Connect DR 2014.
Facilitate discussions between airline companies and airports.

Such is the challenge for ten years now posed by the Connect Conference.

For its 11th edition, held from the 3rd to 6th of June, nearly 440 professionals were present, against 360 last year.

About 45 airlines were represented for 180 airports.

The event took place in Marrakech and this is not the first time it is being exported beyond French borders.

Now relieved of its "French" denomination, it now wants to internationalize.

A great opportunity for the host country to unveil to participants its ambitious growth strategy.

Indeed, since the signing of an open skies agreement between Morocco and Europe in 2006, air traffic has increased considerably.

The capacity of the airport has doubled in ten years to now serve 24 million passengers.

And the Hashemite Kingdom does not intend to stop there. It wants to attract 51 million passengers over the next decade thanks to the many investment and expansion projects of the different platforms.

The authorities are also considering the creation of a new low-cost airline, which could be based in Marrakech. A sort of reminiscence of Atlas Blue, that stopped running in 2009.

Because air transport is one of the key elements of the "Vision 2020" strategy, which hopes to place Morocco in the top 20 worldwide destinations.

A friendly and efficient show

Moroccan airports were not alone in wanting to attract airlines. Many French companies also made the trip.

"Imagine what it would cost me if I had to go visit every company in its headquarters" explains Laurent Noirot, the commercial director of the Nantes Atlantique airport.

"Of course, it is not here that we sign contracts, but it helps to lay the groundwork and know what projects are going to be realized," he continues.

A relaxed but studious atmosphere highly appreciated by the participants who can meet their historic partners and reach new prospects.

"Connect was able to instill a friendly spirit in a professional event," explains Jean-luc Poiroux, business development director of the Bordeaux airport.

Beyond head to head meetings, the show also organizes conferences on current issues in air transport.

Several companies came to boast their business model, including Flybe, Ryanair, easyJet, Vueling or Air France.

But these conferences sometimes served as a forum for the "French bashing" of some the CEOs of some companies (including easyJet and XL Airways) who took those opportunities to rebel against the stifling taxes of the French aviation sector.

Showing that even 2500 kilometers from Paris, the mood doesn’t always change…

Written by Laury-Anne CHOLEZ translated by Joséphine Foucher the 12/06/2014
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