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"It doesn't happen quickly." The efforts airports like Milwaukee and Oakland make for Routes also underscores how hard officials at most U. "We get that kind of suggestion all the time," says Milwaukee's Rowe.

"A lot of people actually think it's the airport that's in charge of that – that the airport simply needs to issue an invitation." American debut This year's marks a milestone for the World Routes event, which is being held in the United States for the first time in its 19-year history.

Low-cost carrier Air Tran debuted at the airport in 2002, service that grew out of conversations that first began at a similar event called Jump Start that competes with Routes.

"They'll tell you the first meeting with Milwaukee at Jump Start is where the seed was first planted and that's where they decided to take a look at Milwaukee," says Pat Rowe, Mitchell's Airport Marketing and Public Relations Director.

"We have nearly 300 aircraft coming in the next 10 years," Thomas Ramdahl, Norwegian's Senior Vice President for Network and Scheduling.

"So, we need to look forward on expanding – both European and long-haul routes," he adds during a short break between sessions with airports.

"Norwegian was a hugely successful company in Europe and when they placed the order for the aircraft, you look at the map and realize there's only so many places they're going to fly it to." So Oakland and Norwegian first met at Routes in Berlin back in 2010, the beginning of three years of conversations that finally led to September's announcement that Norwegian's Dreamliners would soon by flying to Oakland.

A chance to fill in some gaps Another airport looking to make a splash at this year's Routes was Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport, a big hit with attendees thanks to a top-end motorcycle from hometown company Harley Davidson on display in its booth.

"Part of the sourcing we do really starts with the aircraft orders," Albrecht says.Norwegian announced just last month that it will begin flying from Oakland to both Oslo and Stockholm on the carrier's new Boeing 787 Dreamliners starting this May."That development in Oakland is huge for us," says John Albrecht, Oakland International's Aviation Marketing Manager.For example, airlines reserving a single table for meetings were able to have their schedule planners meet with as many as 50 airports if they fully book their meeting slots, Mayes says. That could mean "50 trips that (an airline) won't necessarily have to make" to meet with prospective airports.Norwegian Air Shuttle, a European discount carrier that's growing at a breakneck pace, reserved three tables for this year's Routes.

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"We have a clock that counts down and when it hits 20 minutes, time's up and they have to move on to their next meeting," Mayes says.

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