Brisbane Airport’s new runway will be completed in 2020.

When more than 970 delegates converge on Brisbane for Routes Asia this weekend, they’ll be welcomed by a city ready for the next surge in international passenger growth.

The key route development event for the Asia Pacific region arrives off the back of Brisbane’s strongest year of international passenger growth in the last decade.

With new infrastructure projects at the airport and across the city coming to life, the potential for further increasing capacity in the region is significant.

An impressive 15 new hotels across the city – including two at the airport – is meeting future demand for Queensland’s tourism growth.

Meanwhile, key infrastructure projects such as the landmark Queens Wharf project and Brisbane Airport’s new runway are under development, providing much to talk about as delegates explore Brisbane and south east Queensland during the event.

While the timing is ideal, the planning for Routes Asia is actually years in the making, with initial discussions beginning in 2014.

The airport partnered with the Queensland Government, City of Brisbane and Tourism Australia to bid for the event, which brings together airline decision makers and wholesalers to discuss new services and routes.

Brisbane’s corporate sector also joined the bid process, recognising the significant economic benefits new, direct international services could bring to the state.

Brisbane Airport General Manager Airline & Retail Management Andrew Brodie says the airport specifically targeted Routes Asia because “it sits in our backyard”.

“What we want to get out of this is to put Brisbane, the south east corner and Queensland’s regional areas on the world stage” Brodie says.

Brisbane Airport took a lead role in the planning for Routes Asia with event owners UBM, drawing on its relationships with airlines and wholesalers to ensure key decision makers and influencers attended the event in person.

With the announcement of new services and airlines often years in the making, the event has the potential to fast-track that process for the host city.

Brodie says that in many cases, seeing is believing, and the agenda features tours both within and beyond the city to showcase what Brisbane and South East Queensland has to offer.

He says providing great experiences of the region for decision makers and influencers helped build the argument to increase capacity – or shift capacity from other ports in the Asia Pacific region.

“If they don’t know and truly understand about the product we have to offer… if you can’t showcase the region to those signing off, it’s harder to get that capacity across the line,” Brodie says.

With its new $1.4 billion runway set to increase capacity from approximately 50 to 100 aircraft movements per hour when complete in 2020, Brisbane is ready for growth.

“We’ll have the opportunity to be the primary gateway into Australia from a capacity perspective,” Brodie says.

The airport is already recording double digit month-on-month growth for key markets in Asia.

Opportunities with more mature markets such as Singapore and Hong Kong remain, while attracting new services in growth markets including China, India, Japan, South Korea and South East Asia are a priority for the airport.

However, Brodie says the focus is not just on increasing capacity, but ensuring the airport can work with airlines to identify new services that are sustainable over the long-term.

He says the airport has worked extensively on understanding airlines’ business case, and is using data to identify services that will be sustainable in the Queensland market.

He says it’s an approach that requires a wholistic view of the benefits a service can deliver from a tourism and trade perspective, as well as supporting travel for business and education purposes.

“Our focus at the front of the plan has always been to understand business, tourism, educational and cargo opportunities,” he says.

The city’s domestic connectivity is also a strength.

Offering more direct connections to domestic destinations than any other airport in Australia, Brisbane has highlighted its ability to welcome international passengers to the country before they continue their journey to other states or regional Queensland.

Brodie says this provides strong opportunities for state tourism and regional dispersal, while also providing international passengers with more choice about how they use their time in Australia.

This connectivity, combined with the infrastructure development now underway at Brisbane, are points the airport will highlight in strategic meetings with new and existing airline partners during Routes Asia.

And while the event does not replace the need for ongoing engagement with airlines about new services, Brodie does expect it will support the development of new opportunities in the months ahead.

“We hope within the not-too-distant future post Routes, that we’ll have new announcements, both with existing partners and with new partners,” he says.

Routes Asia will be held in Brisbane from 18-20 March 2018.