Routes Europe 2018: Top tips for destination ..

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The final day of Routes Europe 2018 on Tuesday 24 April was focused on destination marketing and top tips for airports when it comes to negotiating with airlines.

Route development with airlines

Nigel Mayes and Tony Griffin, both senior VPs at ASM – a global route development consultancy – gave an enlightening talk on how to negotiate with airlines and understand the legal framework to improve route development strategies.

Arguing that the primary objective of a negotiation should be mutually beneficial with upsides for both the airline and the airport, both Mayes and Griffin stressed the importance of building regular review phases into a contract.

Mayes also pointed out that airlines want any discounts to be offered in the first year of operation. “Airlines aren’t so bothered about support in years two and three, as by then they would hope the route has taken off, it’s in the first year that they will want to see the discounts,” he said.

The pair also issued a checklist of factors to consider when entering into a negotiation with an airline, which included: assessing competition, seeking third party support, checking what is permitted under regulatory jurisdiction, ensuring you are dealing with a decision maker, involving lawyers to ensure the contract is watertight and both parties benefit, keeping control of any marketing spend as well as adding in the all-important review period.

“In many ways securing the new route is the easy part, it’s the 12 months that follow that require hard work,” said Mayes. “It needs selling, promoting and an investment to ensure it’s successful,” he concluded.

Promoting a destination

Wrapping up the conference sessions for this year’s event, a panel discussion on destination marketing accentuated the importance of partnerships between tourism boards, airports and airlines.

Uel Hoey, business development director at Belfast International Airport, mentioned that hosting events, such as Routes Europe, “was hugely beneficial” and had provided a “great opportunity to showcase what Belfast had to offer” and to change people’s perceptions of it as a destination.

“Pretty much everyone that attended Routes last year in Belfast went away with a completely different idea of what Belfast was about. So, in terms of tourism and awareness it was hugely beneficial to invest in the event and bring the aviation community to our city,” he said.

Hoey also stressed the need for the UK government to scrap Air Passenger Duty (APD) at least on short-haul flights, describing it as an anchor on tourism growth.

Asier Alea, director of external promotion and tourism, provincial government of Biscay, divulged that finding a key message had been integral to its marketing campaign to promote the region. “We have focused on cultural and gastronomy experiences” he said, “because that’s who we are, what we do well.”

Alea also revealed how the Biscay government has made a point of investing in start-ups within the tourism sector, “because you need to be innovative when promoting a destination and keep things current.” He also stressed that whether visitors are coming for business or leisure, it’s important to remember “they are all essentially tourists.”

The inevitable subject of Brexit, and the impact it will have on tourism to and from the UK, once again reared its head. Hoey re-emphasising the point that several other speakers had raised previously during the event, that we are in a “period of uncertainty with a lot of political toing and froing.”

Ignacio Biosca, head of airport marketing and relations with airlines at Aena, described Brexit as “worrying,” especially given the UK is Aena’s main market. “We hope common sense will prevail, but we need to prepare, come together and be clear of the implications of a hard Brexit,” he said.

To minimise the impact of Brexit across Europe’s aviation sector but also on the economy in general, all panellists agreed that the industry needs to be streamlined in its approach and speak with a common voice.

Ending on a positive note though, Biosca reminded the audience that tourism should be valued as an important industry and career path. “People like working to promote a destination. There is a feel-good factor to promoting your city or region and then have the satisfaction of seeing visitors come and experience it for themselves,” he said.

Saab showcases digital tower technology to HI..

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In light of its plans to introduce new air traffic management technology across seven of its 11 airports, the Highlands and Islands Airport group (HIAL) has been hosting a consultation event to improve stakeholder knowledge and understanding of the emerging air traffic management technology in use across Europe.

Held on 25 and 26 April, the event is taking place at the University of the Highlands and Islands campus in Inverness and is open to the public. Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions (SDATS) is attending to showcase its digital tower technology, which is on display, with experts available to explain how it works and how it can benefit airport operations.

The installation of a digital tower – which replaces the conventional control tower with a camera mast to capture the out-of-the-tower-window view before sending this data via a high speed, secure connection to a Remote Digital Tower Centre in another location – is only a fraction of the cost of building or refurbishing a conventional air traffic control tower.

“The provision of air traffic services constitutes a significant proportion of an airport and airline’s costs and is under constant scrutiny,” said Per Ahl, head of marketing and sales, Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions.

Explaining how SDATS technology is not only a cost-effective solution, but will also add enhanced service levels, Ahl added:

This may result in smaller airports remaining open for longer, or even keep some regional airports open which would otherwise have been forced to close due to high cost levels.

HIAL’s long-term digital tower approach will transform its operations at Sumburgh, Dundee, Inverness, Wick John O’Groats, Kirkwall, Stornoway and Benbecula airports in Scotland.

Commenting on the new technology, Inglis Lyon, HIAL’s managing director, said: “Our overriding priority is and will always be, to deliver safe and secure air navigation services that will keep our airports open for local communities for the long term.”

Lyon added that his Air Traffic Management teams are visiting airports in Sweden with this type of technology already in place.

“It’s really important that our teams fully understand what is being proposed,” he continued, referencing Örnsköldsvik and Sundsvall airports in Sweden, which became the first in the world to be controlled by a digital tower delivered by SDATS in 2015. Since then, London City Airport, Cranfield University (which is home to Cranfield Airport), Cork Airport and Shannon Airport have all procured Saab’s technology

“Remotely controlled towers are the future of air traffic management and we are embarking on a long-term project to make our airports fit for the future,” Lyon concluded.

London Oxford Airport celebrates decade of gr..

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According to Eurocontrol figures published last month, London Oxford Airport is one of a handful of UK business airports that have seen consistent growth over the last 10 years.

London Stansted, with its five Fixed Base Operators (FBO), was unveiled as the ‘most recovered’ airport with 35% growth over the last 10 years. But London Oxford followed closely behind with 32% growth overall.

The upturn in the number of large cabin business aircraft movements London Oxford saw last year has continued in the first few months of this year, while rotary activity will also increase further this year when the Children’s Air Ambulance moves to Oxford in May.

James Dillon-Godfray, head of business development at London Oxford, noted that growth at the airport has in part been due to slot constraints at other London-centric airports serving the business aviation community. Airports such as London Luton have become “increasingly squeezed for slots, to the benefit of airports like us,” he said.

“With night flights constrained at key peer airports we can still operate to midnight seven days a week,” Dillon-Godfray continued.

In response to the increased demand for more home-based and visiting business jets, London Oxford Airport is on the verge of completing a brand new 16,000 sq.ft hangar. The new facility will be Bombardier Global 7000 compatible and will also include office space.

There are also plans for a new Premier Inn hotel, which will be built at the entrance to the airport, to open next summer. The airport will cater for air crew, owners and pilots bringing aircraft in for maintenance, as well as for family and friends visiting air cadets at the resident pilot training schools, CAE Oxford Aviation Academy and Airways Aviation.

Routes Europe 2018: Over and out from Bilbao

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The sun has set on yet another successful Routes Europe event. Steven Small, brand director of Routes, described the event as “hugely successful” with more than 1,200 delegates descending on Bilbao over the three-day forum to discuss route development and new network opportunities.

While some may have been nursing sore heads after a night of celebrations on Monday 23 April, when Billund Airport, Budapest Airport and Brussels Airport were all declared winners of their respective categories in the Routes Europe 2018 Marketing Awards, it was more a case of sore feet on Tuesday as delegates continued to walk the show floor checking out the exhibitor stands and meeting with airlines.


Pulling in the crowds

In a bid to attract new airlines and sell new routes, airports exhibiting at this year’s show have not been short of fun and innovative ideas to pull in the passing crowds.

The team at Lodz Airport, who had been giving away brightly-coloured socks throughout the event, called for all those who had picked up a pair to return for a photo opportunity on Tuesday afternoon. Bremen Airport meanwhile was reeling in new routes with its ‘Fish you were here’ campaign taking photos of attendees in an underwater setting. Melanie Seidel, who is responsible for marketing at the airport, explained that Eastern Europe is a focus for Bremen in terms of its route development because of the strong trade relations in the maritime and logistics industries.

Celebrating the fact it is home to the oldest sauna in Finland, Business Tampere was offering delegates the chance to momentarily zone out of work mode by donning a towelling robe and slippers to ‘experience a sauna of sorts’ on its stand.

Commenting on how Tampere is ripe for business, Marja Aalto, Business Tampere’s director of air transport development, said that the city offers plenty of potential for those looking to invest. Ryanair has already confirmed that it will make the route between Tampere and Budapest a year-round service as of this winter.

On the Best of France stand, five regional gateways (Lille, Strasbourg, Montpellier, Brest and Bergerac) teamed up to offer French delicacies and wine, as well as a game of table football and a fun photo booth complete with berets to dress up in.

Hannover Airport in Germany, which has been declared the official host of Routes Europe 2019, was attracting passers-by with its Jagermeister bar and claw grabber machine stocked up with goodies to be won.

The German gateway certainly set the scene for a lively and action-packed event in 2019!


Header image: The official handover ceremony for Hannover Airport to host Routes Europe 2019.

Routes Europe 2018: Billund celebrates big wi..

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Denmark’s Billund Airport has finished this year’s Routes Europe event on a high, having scooped the top prize in the events 2018 marketing awards for the under four million passenger category.

A highlight on the Routes calendar, the awards ceremony took place in Bilbao’s Euskalduna Conference Centre, with leaders from across Europe’s aviation sector coming together to celebrate the winning teams.

The Danish gateway beat off competing airports from Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands and Northern Ireland to claim the title.

“We are delighted to have won this award, primarily because our partner airlines have recognised what we do in firstly attracting them to serve the airport, but then to make their service sustainable,” said Kjeld Zacho Jorgensen, CEO, Billund Airport.

Winning the award was particularly poignant for Zacho Jorgensen, as he will be stepping down from his role at the helm of Billund Airport in May, after an eight-year tenure. Instead he will be turning his attention to his own company, Zacho Advice – a consulting company focused on management, strategy, project development and coaching.

Thanking his airport marketing team for their work in winning the award, he added: “Their dedication, commitment and professionalism has delivered this well-deserved award. It has been a real team effort.”

Voted for and judged by airlines, the awards recognise airports that have achieved route development and marketing successes in the last 12 months. Other airports nominated in the under four million category were Belfast City Airport (which was highly commended), Cork Airport, Groningen Airport and Liege Airport.

In the four to 20 million passenger category, Budapest was declared the winner, while Brussels Airport was not only announced as the winner of the over 20 million passenger category, but the Overall Winner of the Routes Europe 2018 Marketing Award.

Meanwhile, in recognition of the role tourist boards play in promoting route development, the Canary Islands Tourist Board – Promotur scooped the Destination Marketing Award.

Header image: Kjeld Zacho Jørgensen, CEO and Jesper Klausholm, head of airline relations and marketing from Billund Airport celebrate the Danish gateway’s win at the Routes Europe 2018 Marketing Awards in Bilbao.


Routes Europe 2018: The past, present and fut..

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The second day of Routes Europe kick started on Monday 23 April with a panel discussion on the state of Europe’s aviation industry.

With the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicting that Europe’s aviation market will grow at 2.3% per year over the next two decades, adding an additional 550 million passengers by 2036, the concern is that airport infrastructure isn’t up to scratch, according to Rafael Schvartzman, regional vice-president, IATA.

“Passengers will double by 2036, but airport infrastructure isn’t being addressed as it should and European airspace is inefficient,” he said.

Schvartzman also noted that the passenger compensation system in Europe is not fit for purpose, saying “we need a more fair and balanced system.”

On a more positive note Mark Clarkson, EVP product development, OAG, revealed that with the increase in passenger traffic and low-fare travel, “airlines are increasingly looking at secondary markets and developing forgotten markets.”

According to data from OAG, European capacity grew by 3% in 2017, compared with the previous 12 months. Of this, low-fare seats accounted for 32%, up from 30.4% in 2016, emphasising the rise in the market of low-fare carriers, such as easyJet, Ryanair and Eurowings.


BA’s battle against LCCs

Meanwhile, an interview with British Airways’ (BA) Chairman and CEO, Alex Cruz, saw a packed-out conference room tune in to hear what Cruz had to say about the airline’s plans over the next few years and how it aims to battle the rise of low-cost carriers (LCC).

Referencing the airline’s centenary celebrations next year, Cruz stated that the airline’s focus is on showing the world that British Airways is “still the leader in its field, when it comes to the quality of the service and product it offers.”

On the subject of long-haul, low-fare flights, Cruz stated that when he first joined the airline in 2016, the challenge particularly with flights from Gatwick was how British Airways could continue being competitive while delivering a quality service.

“The trick has been our newly refurbished 777s,” he revealed, explaining that the aircraft’s cabin reconfiguration “has enabled us to compete satisfactorily with low-cost, long-haul services.”

Cruz added that while in the short term, the acquisition of Monarch’s slots at Gatwick has provided the airline with access to short-haul leisure destinations, the UK’s flag-carrying airline plans to explore new long-haul routes with these slots.

The airline has also launched its new long-haul ‘basic’ fare together with its transatlantic joint business partner airlines: American Airlines, Finnair and Iberia on flights from London to Austin, Boston, Delhi, Denver, Dubai, Hong Kong, Lagos, Oakland, Philadelphia, Punta Cana and Singapore.


Aviation disruptors

A session on aviation disruptors covered the inevitable subject of Brexit, as well as political instability and security concerns such as terrorism.

bmi Regional’s CCO, Jochen Schnadt, highlighted that the primary issue with Brexit is the level of uncertainty it creates. “If you ask 100 people what it means you get 101 answers,” he said, before adding that Brexit is a massive disrupter to the industry.

Referencing recent security measures that have been taken as a result of terrorist threats, Sergio Fernandez, regional director airports Europe, IATA, stated: “With the electronics ban and the raising of the bar of security measures, airports and airlines are required to act more and more as security layers.”

While Leon Verhallen, head of aviation marketing at Brussels Airport underlined the need for government support to maintain confidence in the aviation market in the light of recent attacks.

“After the Brussels attacks some US travellers weren’t allowed to travel to Belgium,” he said, divulging that as a result of this disruption Boeing had to meet with its Belgian clients in the Netherlands.

As the second day of pounding the show floor and networking with airlines and airports drew to a close, delegates and exhibitors alike headed off into the night for the Routes Europe 2018 marketing awards ceremony at Bilbao’s Euskalduna Conference Centre.


Inset image: British Airways Chairman and CEO, Alex Cruz (right) with John Strickland, director, JLS Consulting.

Routes Europe 2018: Airlines and airports con..

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Aviation industry leaders from more than 300 airports and 100 airlines have converged in Bilbao, Spain for the 13th annual Routes Europe event this week, to negotiate new networks and services throughout Europe.

Airports have been busy pulling out all the stops (literally champagne corks were flying on the show floor) as the first day of the exhibition and conference drew to a close on Sunday 22 April.

Meanwhile in the conference sessions, a keynote address from the Basque Government’s transport planning director, Janire Bijueska highlighted that Spain’s Basque region is ripe for investment and trade with three airports serving 56 destinations.

Bijueska cited that as Northern Spain’s largest airport, Bilbao connected around 5 million passengers to cities across Europe last year (an 8.4% increase when compared with figures from 2016).


The low-cost landscape

Meanwhile, Ray Webster, easyJet’s former CEO, gave an enlightening talk on his life in aviation and the low-cost carrier (LCC) landscape.

Having been made easyJet’s CEO in 1996, Webster is credited with developing one of the biggest LCC brands, not only in Europe, but around the world.

“One of my biggest challenges when I first joined the airline was to get Stelios away from pricing,” Webster said, revealing that when he started with the airline, its founder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, would monitor the flights constantly throughout the day and then adapt the seat prices accordingly.

“I’m quite confident at coding, so I wrote a programme to set the initial pricing model into the system,” he added, explaining that this enabled the airline to monitor the sales rate and adjust the price accordingly with the number of remaining seats.

While he may have been instrumental behind success of easyJet’s low-fare model, Webster confessed that he isn’t a fan of the long-haul, low-cost sector. “I understand the appeal for young people and students, but I don’t see it becoming a mainstream market. If you’re travelling six to eight hours you want some level of comfort,” he said.


He also cited that he believes high-speed rail travel is currently the biggest threat to LCCs within Europe. Describing France’s high-speed rail network as “quick, efficient and fatigue-free,” he noted that when travelling by train there’s no hassle of waiting around at an airport and passengers travelling by rail can carry on with their work without interruptions.

Referencing poorly utilised airports (such as Luton and Stansted) as instrumental to easyJet’s success in the early days, Webster enthused that dedicated low-cost terminals are key to ensuring optimal performance from a low-fare carrier in today’s market. He concluded that the joy of working with a start-up, as easyJet was when he joined, is that “you’ll attract like-minded, passionate, talented people who are prepared to put in the hours.”


The airport-airline partnership

Wrapping up the conference sessions for the day, Edinburgh Airport’s CEO, Gordon Dewar and easyJet’s group director of strategy and network, Robert Carey discussed the importance of the airline-airport partnership.

“The cost element is a crucial part of our business, but that doesn’t mean we believe in doing things on the cheap,” said Dewar. “It’s all about working in a partnership, building trust and being constructive so that when there’s an issue we can address and respond to it.”

The pair highlighted four areas they are focused on in terms of their relationship: Developing new product offerings, such as Worldwide by easyJet; forming an innovative cost structure that benefits the airline, airport and passengers; building infrastructure that can cater for future demand; and finding new opportunities for example accessing multiple data sources to gain a better understanding of the local market and to develop profitable routes.

Images: Header – Ray Webster (right), former CEO of easyJet discusses the low-cost landscape with Nigel Mayes, senior vice-president, consulting & product development, ASM; Inset – Janire Bijueska, transport planning director, Ministry of Economic Development and Infrastructure, Basque Government delivers her keynote address;

NewPENS contract signed in Brussels

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EUROCONTROL (the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation), alongside more than 40 industry partners – primarily air navigation service providers (ANSPs) – have unveiled a new 10-year contract with British Telecommunications (BT) for the provision and management of secure and resilient New Pan-European Network Services (NewPENS).

The contract, which has an estimated value of €50 million, was signed in Brussels, following a common procurement action, on 17 April 2018.

Connecting around 100 locations across 47 countries in and around the EUROCONTROL area, the network will be accessible to all air traffic management (ATM) stakeholders, so they can transfer business-critical data  securely and in a cost-efficient way.

The successor to PENS, which was launched in December 2009, NewPENS is a major upgrade – in service management and network architecture – and the backbone for cross-border data and voice communications for the Network Manager, ANSPs and other ATM stakeholders.

“NewPENS is an unparalleled common procurement contract in pan-European air traffic management,” stated Eamonn Brennan, director general of EUROCONTROL and vice-chairman NewPENS Top Management Board.

“With air traffic on the rise, NewPENS will provide solid support to European aviation, securing cross-border network connections and underpinning safety-critical applications,” he added.

In addition to being future-proof, NewPENS’s features include being available to a wider range of stakeholders, including the military, ATM providers, airlines, airports and meteorological services as well as ANSPs, and the option of different tiers of service – from entry-level to mid-level, through to high-end.

Bas Burger, BT’s CEO of global services, noted that “with air traffic expected to double in the years ahead, the need for secure and highly reliable communications has never been greater and of more importance.”

He added: “The networking infrastructure we will put in place for the NewPENS community will ensure ultra-high levels of resilience and security for air traffic controllers to help guide planes safely to their destinations.”

Header image: Network Manager Operations Centre; Inset image: Signing of the NewPENS contract on 17 April 2018

Dublin Airport opens solar farm

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Dublin Airport, which has flights to 195 destinations in 42 countries and is served by a number of regional and low-fare carriers including Ryanair, Norwegian, flybe, Loganair and Aer Lingus, has joined a growing number of airports turning to solar power.

Under the management of Dublin Airports Authority (daa) and in partnership with the Irish Electricity Supply Board (ESB), the airport has installed 268 solar panels on top of its reservoir system to provide more than half of the reservoir’s annual energy requirements.

Providing 500 million litres of water – the equivalent of 200 Olympic-sized swimming pools – to the airport’s two passenger terminals, the reservoir system also services all the offices and businesses on the airport campus.

Explaining how daa is working closely with ESB to identify opportunities to use low-carbon technologies to improve energy performance at the airport, Dalton Philips, daa’s CEO, said: “We are committed to working in partnership with ESB to reduce our energy consumption by 33% by 2020.”

The airport is already carbon accredited, as part of a Europe-wide airport carbon management certification programme that covers more than half of European air passenger traffic.

“We want to be leaders in this area and help Ireland meet its national obligations in the process,” said Philips, revealing how in the past three years, Dublin Airport has reduced its carbon footprint by 5,000 tonnes, which is equivalent to a 10% reduction in carbon emissions under its control.

“We are looking forward to building on this performance and making even more energy savings that will also benefit the travelling public through sustainable environmental performance and annual cost savings,” Philips concluded.

Header image: ESB CEO Pat O’Doherty and daa CEO, Dalton Philips, at Dublin Airport’s solar farm.

Tucson’s airports contribute US$7.4 billion..

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A new economic impact study has revealed that Tucson Airport Authority’s two airports, Tucson International Airport (TUS) and Ryan Airfield (RYN) contribute an impressive US$7.4 billion to southern Arizona’s local economy each year.

The study, which was carried out by Elliott D. Pollack and Company, determined that both airports play an integral role in attracting and retaining high quality jobs and industries to the region. Between them TUS and RYN support over 43,000 jobs paying US$2.3 billion in wages.

“As the region’s major commercial airport, most people know what a valuable asset Tucson International Airport is when it comes to travel to and from southern Arizona,” said Bonnie Allin, president and CEO, TUS.

She added that the study further demonstrates how “tightly interconnected TAA’s airports are as economic engines that benefit us all in many ways.”


Report highlights

Other highlights from the report show that the average annual wage earned by a worker at one of TAA’s airports (US$87,731, including benefits) was well above the average Pima County household median income (of US$47,000).

Spending by visitors arriving at TUS also generated an additional 8,774 direct jobs, worth US$241.7 million in wages and benefits. In addition, the City of Tucson received US$36 million in tax revenues from businesses and employees of TAA, airport tenants and tourist spending, representing 3.7% of the city’s operating expenditures.

Meanwhile, Pima County received US$54.4 million in tax revenues from TAA businesses, employees and tourist spending, also representing 3.7% of its operating expenditures.

Significantly, out of the 3.4 million passengers flying through TUS last year, 51.1% of those were visitors to the region, with an average spend of US$786 in southern Arizona over a typical 4.8-day stay.

The total annual economic impact of tourism (direct, indirect and induced) was US$947.6 million.

Developments at TUS

This year marks the 70th anniversary for the non-profit TAA, which is celebrating with several passenger-related events throughout the year at TUS.

“The airport’s efficient operations and focus on strategic growth and economic development through innovative and collaborative partnerships over the past 70 years ensure significant benefits not just for our community, but the entire region,” said Lisa Lovallo, Cox Communications’ market vice-president of Southern Arizona and the 2018 chair of the TAA board of directors.

“We look forward to an even greater impact in 2018 as the airport continues to grow,” Lovallo continued.

The airport has witnessed strong year-on-year growth with the first three months of this year already showing a 5.3% improvement from last year with 947,024 passengers passing through the terminal.

Much of the increase in passenger traffic can be credited to the addition of three new destinations in the last year: Austin on Via Air, Charlotte on American Airlines, and San Jose on Alaska Airlines. Additionally, Sun Country Airlines returned to Tucson with seasonal flights to Minnneapolis-St. Paul.

American and Southwest continued to be the airport’s two busiest airlines at TUS, accounting for 37% and 25.5% of passengers, respectively, this year.

To cater for the growth in passenger traffic, TUS opened four permanent eateries airside in March as part of a larger culinary transformation at the airport which has been ongoing since March 2017. Three more restaurants are due to open soon.


Header image: Tucson International Airport