Singapore Airshow to go ahead despite fewer exhibitors, with stepped-up coronavirus measures

Visitors gawk at more than 40 aircraft from around the world on static display at the Singapore Airshow, on Feb 10, 2018. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Airshow will go ahead as planned next week despite the withdrawal of 16 exhibitors and fewer visitors expected as travel disruption grows from the spiralling coronavirus outbreak.

Experia Events, the airshow's organiser, said the biennial event will proceed as planned from Feb 11 to 16 with enhanced precautionary measures "to safeguard the well-being and safety of all attendees" in view of the evolving coronavirus situation.

This includes additional temperature screening at access points at Singapore Expo and Changi Exhibition Centre, as well as provision of hand sanitisers and a team of doctors and medics to attend to visitors who are feeling unwell, it said in a statement on Tuesday (Feb 4).

Mr Leck Chet Lam, managing director of Experia Events said: "The health and well-being of our attendees is of the utmost priority. Alongside these additional measures, we will also continue to take reference from guidelines provided by the authorities such as Singapore's Ministry of Health."

The firm confirmed on Tuesday the cancellation of a key aviation conference, involving 300 government officials, civil aviation authorities, airport operators and airline executives.

"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," it said.

Of the 16 exhibitors who have pulled out, 10 are from China and six from four other countries, including aerospace companies Gulfstream, Textron Aviation and Bombardier .

Experia Events said Singapore's recent travel restrictions in response to the virus outbreak and company policies on employee travel bans during this period is also expected to reduce the number of visitors.

Ten of the companies which have exited are Chinese, while six are from other countries. They include Canadian aerospace firm Bombardier, as well as US-based business jet manufacturers Gulfstream and Textron Aviation.

South Korean air force's aerobatic team, the Black Eagles also confirmed its withdrawal from this year's airshow.

Independent aviation analyst Brendan Sobie noted that it is a "very fluid situation", with large aviation companies like Airbus and Lockheed still expected to attend but with a reduced presence.

Experia said it remains "ready and prepared to implement further enhanced measures as required by the authorities", and that it will be providing further updates leading up to the airshow.

There were more than 20,600 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Tuesday, with more than 420 deaths. The World Health Organization has declared the crisis a global health emergency.

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