UPDATED: Key Singapore Airshow event cancelled

Aviation Leadership Summit cancelled, China exhibitors pulling out as are other top names as virus worries scare off attendees.

Singapore Airshow
A file photo from the 2018 show. Organisers are clearly unhappy with the 2020 show because of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak that has killed hundreds of people and sickened thousands around the world. (PHOTO: Shutterstock)

A key event at the Singapore Airshow has been cancelled as the toll from the Wuhan coronavirus continues to mount, both in terms of deaths, the numbers infected and the economic fallout affecting not only aviation, but global supply chains, and stock markets.

Citing officials from the UN International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and three industry sources, Reuters reported the Aviation Leadership Summit had been abandoned. The summit is a key event for the airshow and typically hosts top aviation leaders from around the world. The cancellation is the latest blow as several companies like Gulfstream also announced they were pulling out of the show. Speakers at the Leadership Summit were due to include ICAO President Salvatore Sciacchitano, US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Steve Dickson and International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General Alexandre de Juniac.

IATA Director General Alexandre du Juniac at the 2018 Aviation Leadership Summit. (PHOTO: Experia Events)

Organiser Experia Events later confirmed the leadership summit would be cancelled, although the website for the summit was still active as of today (4 February) and made no mention of the cancellation.

Experia Events issued a statement saying: “The Singapore Airshow Aviation Leadership Summit (SAALS) 2020, a component of the Airshow programme involving 300 aviation leaders, comprising government officials, civil aviation authorities, airport operators and airline executives, will not take place this year. This will allow many of the aviation leaders who are deeply involved in working out the responses to the novel coronavirus outbreak to focus on exigencies related to the ongoing situation.” The organiser said the remainder of the show will “proceed as planned”.

Experia also released a list of companies not participating that includes:

  1. CAE
  2. Bombardier
  3. Ampaire Inc
  4. Acevision
  5. Ameco Beijing
  6. Beijing Implant Science & Technology
  7. China Aviation Industrial Base
  8. China National Aero-Technology Import & Export
  9. Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China
  10. Shandong Stopart Brake Materials
  11. United Enterprice Group
  12. Zuhai Airshow Company
  13. Stemme
  14. ALA Corporation
  15. Gulfstream
  16. Textron Aviation

Boeing, Airbus and Lockheed Martin, among the biggest exhibitors, said they still plan to attend the show.

A spokesman for Gulfstream told Asian Aviation by email that “the health and well-being of our employees, customers and stakeholders are of paramount importance to Gulfstream. In light of the recent coronavirus outbreak, we are taking extra precautions by limiting international travel and have made the difficult decision to withdraw from the upcoming Singapore Airshow. We look forward to returning to the show for its next iteration in 2022.”

In 2018, there were 54,000 trade attendees from 147 countries and 1,062 participating companies who come to network, examine products and sign deals covering commercial aviation, defence, maintenance and repair operations and business jets. Typically, it is not a major show for commercial plane orders but talks during the show can set the stage for deals that are completed later in the year.

South Korea’s air force said it had decided not to participate as part of broader precautions against the coronavirus. Its Black Eagles aerobatic team has taken part in the flying display at Singapore airshows in recent years. Russian aerospace group Rostec plans to send a reduced delegation to the show, Russian media reported.

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Matthew Driskill is the Editor of Asian Aviation and is based in Cambodia. He has been an Asia-based journalist and content producer since 1990 for outlets including Reuters and the International Herald Tribune/New York Times and is a former president of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Hong Kong. He frequently appears on international broadcast outlets like CNN, Al Jazeera and the BBC and has taught journalism at Hong Kong University and the American University of Paris. Driskill has received awards from the Associated Press for Investigative Reporting and Business Writing and in 1989 was named the John J. McCloy Fellow by the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York where he earned his Master's Degree.


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