EBACE Planners Monitoring Coronavirus ‘Very Closely’

Organizers of the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) set for May 26-28 in Geneva are proceeding with planning for Europe’s largest business aviation event, but keeping watch on a fluid situation related to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Safety is the highest priority, they stress. 

“We’re monitoring the situation very closely—and by that I mean on a daily basis,” said Dan Hubbard, spokesman for the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), which co-hosts EBACE. “Some portion of our team is reporting on this every day. Conversations include medical experts and government authorities. We’re trying to make the most informed decisions we can.” 

EBACE 2020, scheduled to be held at the Palexpo convention center in Geneva, draws about 13,000 attendees, 400 exhibitors and more than 50 aircraft on static display at Geneva International Airport. 

Among the items being monitored is the Swiss government’s Feb. 28 decision to ban gatherings of more than 1,000 people at least through March 15. Organizers are watching to see whether the government decides to extend the ban, and if so, for how long, Hubbard said 

“That could have implications to the show,” he said. 

In Geneva, Switzerland’s ban halted the Geneva International Motor Show and two watch shows, including Watches & Wonders and Baselworld. France, meanwhile, has temporarily banned indoor gatherings of more than 5,000 people, although the Louvre in Paris has reopened. 

Coronavirus fears aside, EBACE has been lining up as a strong event, Hubbard said. 

“At this time, we not only have full participation (for EBACE), but we do have some new and returning exhibitors,” Hubbard said. Others are expanding space. “The exhibit floor footprint is somewhat larger in square meters this year than it was last year.” 

In the meantime, other scheduled aviation-related conferences are moving forward, while others have been postponed or canceled.

In February, a long list of exhibitors pulled out of the Singapore Airshow, including Bombardier, Textron Aviation and Gulfstream, but the show went on. NBAA canceled the Asian Business Aviation Association Convention & Exhibition in Shanghai, scheduled for April 21-23.

So far, however, NBAA is moving forward with its line-up of other events scheduled for the year, including the 2020 Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, set for March 10-13, the 2020 International Operator's Conference March 16-19 and others.

Organizers of the Farnborough International Airshow, set for July 20-24, say they are mindful of the impacts from the virus and are paying attention to the advice of the UK government. But since the show is some months away, they are moving forward with plans. 

The International Air Transport Association postponed its World Air Cargo Symposium, scheduled for March 10-12 in Istanbul. Organizers cited a recent rise in the number of participant cancellations because of company travel bans or the need for senior delegates to stay close to home. In addition, Air Convention Asia 2020 organizers moved the date of their show from April to June 9-11. On March 4, organizers canceled the World ATM Congress planned in Madrid on March 10-12, citing “the inordinate amount of travel restrictions.” The gathering of air navigation service providers had been expected to draw about 250 exhibitors and 9,500 attendees. 

In the U.S., the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference scheduled for March 16-20 in suburban Houston was canceled. The 1,600 registrants were notified of the decision late March 4. 

As of March 5, more than 95,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported worldwide, with 80,000 of them in China. Of the total cases, more than 53,000 people have recovered, while more than 3,200 have died. 

Molly McMillin

Molly McMillin, a 25-year aviation journalist, is managing editor of business aviation for the Aviation Week Network and editor-in-chief of The Weekly of Business Aviation, an Aviation Week market intelligence report.