Singapore Airshow, Albeit Diminished, Goes On

SINGAPORE - Coronavirus or not, the Singapore Airshow will likely still go on — albeit with 8% fewer participating exhibitors, 10-15 fewer aircraft in the static display and less than half the expected attendance during the public days, the event organizers say. 

More than 70 contracted exhibitors, including several major U.S. defense contractors and the entire Chinese industrial delegation, stayed home, but the omissions represented less than one-tenth of the overall presence in the exhibit hall, says Leck Chet Lam, managing director of Experia Events, speaking to reporters during a Feb. 9 press conference. 

“We see it as very important that we make this platform still available for the business community,” Lam says. “The situation is trying, but I think we need to balance. Life [and] business life goes on. And so we make this platform available.”

The airshow’s inaugural media conference is usually dominated by talk of new exhibitors and aircraft debuts, but it comes only two days after the Singaporean government escalated the threat condition to orange as confirmed cases of coronavirus climbed. 

The Chinese industry delegation was banned from entering the country due to new Singaporean rules intended to minimize exposure to the virus. Other companies, including Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Collins Aerospace, decided to withdraw voluntarily. 

Despite the withdrawals, the U.S. Pavilion inside the exhibit hall still has a “strong presence” by American companies, Lam said. 

As the condition evolves, Singaporean officials will continue to assess attendance and participation at the airshow, Lam added. Asked what specific conditions or metrics could lead to additional preventative measures on-site or even the airshow’s cancellation, Lam avoided offering detail of the decision-making process.

“We take very close guidance and we make reference to guidelines issued by government authorities, [such as] the Ministry of Health,” Lam says. “We will be guided by what they are imposing or what they are proposing.”

Steve Trimble

Steve covers military aviation, missiles and space for the Aviation Week Network, based in Washington DC.