High-level leadership key in air route development to support cities

Hot on the heels of Brisbane announcing its intention to bid to host the 2032 Olympics, new research by Griffith University has highlighted the importance of leadership and governance among larger stakeholders in the ongoing development of air routes that ultimately support cities in hosting these types of major events.  

Bojana Spasojevic, an Aviation lecturer within Griffith’s School of Engineering and Built Environment, led the research, which has been published in the Annals of Tourism Research 

Spasojevic said key among the findings was that there had been no research into how leadership and governance within larger organisations could result in successful stakeholder engagement in air route development (ARD) – existing research had only focused on small to medium enterprises. 

“Despite the massive potential of stakeholder engagement for the entire state’s economy and particularly for the aviation and tourism sector, the engagement of large stakeholders still had a significant research gap,” Spasojevic said. 

“We conducted a worldwide survey with 100 airlines, airports and destination management organisations (DMO) where air route development experts identified the most critical leadership and governance attributes that lead to successful stakeholder engagement in the process of air route development.” 

“The survey identified a substantial difference between the key attributes that are perceived by small/medium enterprises and large tourism stakeholders, and the correlations of attribute perceptions was dependent on the leading ARD stakeholder. 

“Academic literature has identified lack of proper governance and leadership cohesion as the cause of unstable destination management organisations and unsuccessful tourism partnerships.” 

The development of new air routes involves business development, negotiation, finance and marketing activities to maintain existing or attract additional air seat capacity.  

ARD also plays a key role in maintaining destination attractiveness, and due to the costs and expertise required, only very large government agencies and tourism transport providers tend to be involved.  

Singapore and Dubai are examples of success in this regard, where active stakeholder engagement has transformed these traditionally ‘stop over’ locations into attractive destinations. 

The Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) team was recently recognised for its leadership skills with the Overall Winner of Marketing Award at the Routes Asia Conference in Cebu Philippines. BAC also has two new US routes (Chicago and San Francisco) that will be be operated by Qantas from April 2020. 

“Another great example of successful large stakeholders’ engagement is found at Gold Coast Airport, whose close engagement with Destination Gold Coast, Tourism and Events Queensland, Jetstar and Gold Coast City Council has led to the recent establishment of a new international route, Gold Coast-Seoul,” Spasojevic said. 

“By using the attribute scorings from the survey we conducted, further training tools for air route development decision-makers can be developed. 

“The implication of this tool could be seen on a broader level, such as major events – South East Queensland is preparing to bid for the Olympic Games 2032, where all large stakeholders would have to work together.  

“Airports, in this case Brisbane and Gold Coast, would play a key role in connecting South East Queensland with the rest of the world and supporting the state’s tourism industry.”