UPDATED-WUHAN CORONAVIRUS: Organisers cancel ABACE, Lockheed, Raytheon pull out of Singapore Airshow

Singapore’s elevated disease alert level fails to deter airshow organisers; Thales-CAAS postpone AIR Lab launch due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’; Aviation Festival postponed; Longview Aviation pulls De Havilland and Viking Air from Singapore Airshow; Lockheed, Raytheon now out

(PHOTO: Shutterstock)

The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) announced it has cancelled this year’s Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (ABACE), “given health concerns and other special challenges for event participants”, which have arisen as the Wuhan coronavirus continues its relentless march around the globe, infecting thousands and killing hundreds, mainly in China. ABACE 2020 was scheduled to take place in Shanghai from April 21-23.

(PHOTO: Ralph Jennings)

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen said in announcing the cancellation that “our organisations have always viewed participating exhibitors, attendees and government leaders as partners and as with all NBAA events, their health, safety and security is always our highest priority. While the Chinese government is taking commendable steps to address the coronavirus outbreak, the current situation has presented a very challenging environment for decision-making and action for ABACE participants to fully prepare for the event. This necessary step is being taken in the spirit of partnership, collaboration and transparency.” Bolen added that the ABACE conference will return in 2021 and is scheduled to take place from 13-15 April that year.

While ABACE has been cancelled, the Singapore Airshow is set to continue despite the fact that Singapore health authorities have raised the city-state’s alert status that is supposed to have organisers of large-scale events cancel or defer those events. The Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) was raised to “Orange”. DORSCON Orange means that the disease is deemed severe and spreads easily from person to person, but has not spread widely and is being contained. As of today (8 February), Singapore has a total of 33 coronavirus cases with at least four patients with no recent travel history to China or links to the other cases.

In response to the raised alert level, airshow organisers Experia Events said it will implement “enhanced measures” at the airshow to protect the thousands of people expected to attend. Leck Chet Lam, managing director of Experia Events, said: “Since the outbreak of 2019-nCoV, the Singapore government is already working with various stakeholders such as airports, hotels, business events community and attractions to ensure that there are protocols and processes to step up vigilance and cleaning and sanitisation regimens.”

Andrew Phua, director, Exhibitions and Conferences, Singapore Tourism Board (STB), said: “STB is working closely with Experia Events and other government agencies to provide continued support to the Singapore Airshow 2020, in light of the current DORSCON Orange. We encourage delegates and exhibitors to look out for one another, remain vigilant, adopt good personal hygiene practices and monitor their health closely. The safety of locals, visitors and our industry partners is our top priority.”

Pentagon shrinks Singapore Airshow team, Lockheed and Raytheon pull out

A Reuters report from Washington said the US Pentagon has downsized the team travelling to the Singapore Airshow and said US defence heavyweights Lockheed Martin and Raytheon have pulled out altogether because or concerns over the coronavirus and its spread globally. Undersecretary of Defence Ellen Lord will no longer attend the event “due to extenuating circumstances”, Lieutenant Colonel Mike Andrews said in a statement. Lord is the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer and was the Pentagon’s lead representative at the event. Other Pentagon leaders including uniformed military officials plan to attend.

Lockheed Martin became the first major US defence company to announce it will not attend the airshow due to the coronavirus. “Following the Singapore Ministry of Health’s Feb 7 declaration of a Code Orange health alert, we consulted with the US government and our medical teams and decided not to participate in the Singapore Airshow,” the company said in a statement. “We determined this was in the best interest of our employees and aligned with the US Department of Defence’s decision to reduce its presence,” it said.

Raytheon also pulled out. “Because of the growing health crisis in the region, and out of an abundance of caution, Raytheon Company will not be exhibiting at this year’s Singapore Airshow,” it said in a statement.

Longview Aviation pulls out of Singapore Airshow

Longview Aviation, which owns De Havilland Aircraft of Canada and Viking Air, said on Saturday (8 February) that it was pulling out of the Singapore Airshow due to fears over the Wuhan coronavirus. The company said in a statement: “In light of the increased DORSCON alert level announced yesterday, Longview Aviation has elected to cancel the participation of its subsidiary companies, De Havilland Aircraft of Canada and Viking Air in the Singapore Airshow 2020. This is due to an abundance of caution for the well-being of its employees.”

THALES-CAAS Air Lab launch postponed

Kevin Shum, director general of CAAS and Jean Ferré, vice president Air Traffic Management of Thales, at the signing ceremony. (PHOTO: CAAS)

Another major event that was to happen during the airshow was the official launch of the S$30 million Thales- Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) Joint Aviation Innovation Research (AIR) Lab.

Public Relations representatives of the lab said that “due to unforeseen circumstances, we regret that the background briefing and official launch of the Joint Aviation Innovation Research (AIR) Lab, which was scheduled to take place on 7 February and 11 February respectively, will be postponed to a later date.”

Thales officials refused to confirm or deny the delay was due to the coronavirus. CAAS officials did not respond to telephone calls or emails asking for clarification.

The lab is being established to “drive innovation in new air traffic management (ATM) technologies,” according to a statement announcing its formation.

Aviation Festival postponed, Leadership Summit cancelled

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

As Asian Aviation reported previously, organisers of the Aviation Festival to postpone the event that was originally scheduled to be held on 18-19 February in Singapore. This comes after organisers of the Aviation Leadership Summit cancelled that event outright. The summit was to be held just before the start of the Singapore Airshow. Aviation Festival organisers Terrapinn said in a statement the festival will now be held on 23-24 June in Singapore at the Suntec Convention Centre.

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Asian Aviation
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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