SINGAPORE - The number of tickets for the public days of the Singapore Airshow this year will be limited to less than half of the previous edition due to the novel coronavirus situation here.
Over 70 companies have also withdrawn from the exhibiting at the event, which begins on Tuesday (Feb 11) and runs till Sunday (Feb 16). This dropout represents about 8 per cent of the total number of firms that had originally signed up, said Mr Leck Chet Lam, managing director of event organiser Experia Events, during a press conference on Sunday (Feb 9).
The withdrawals were due to recent travel restrictions and stricter company policies on non-essential employee travel in light of the coronavirus situation.
Mr Leck said the organisers "respect the decision" of the companies that decided to withdraw.
He added that the sale of public day tickets will also be limited to ensure a smaller attendance. In 2018, there were 70,000 public visitors over the two public days, according to Experia.
Over 930 companies will be exhibiting and 45,000 trade attendees are still expected.
There will be close to 45 assets on show in the static aircraft display, about 10 fewer than the 2018 edition, said Mr Leck.
When asked if the airshow will be cancelled if the situation worsens and Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (Dorscon) level escalates to red, Mr Leck said the organisers will take guidance from the policies and measures implemented by the Ministry of Health in making any decision.
He said that it is Experia's responsibility to make sure the show goes on, so that trade visitors still get the chance to network and discuss business opportunities.
"(Singapore Airshow) has grown to such a stature that it is a very important node of the entire ecosystem of the global aviation industry," said Mr Leck.
In light of the coronavirus situation, a slew of precautionary measures are being adopted, including seat tagging at events such as forums and conferences in case the need for contact tracing arises, and conducting temperature screening at entrances to event sites at Singapore Expo and Changi Exhibition Centre.
Attendees are also encouraged to greet each other with waves and bows, instead of shaking hands, so as to minimise physical contact.
A team of doctors and medics will also be deployed to attend to visitors who feel unwell, along with enhanced cleaning and refuse management, and making hand sanitisers available to attendees.
Mr Tan Kong Hwee, assistant managing director of the Economic Development Board, said his organisation and other agencies had been working with Experia on scenario planning, even before it was even Dorscon code yellow.
A decision was made to go on with the show after an assessment of the situation and risks entailed in organising it, he explained.
"But we also recognise that the situation is evolving quickly so there could be developments along the way, and we may just have to adjust along the way," he added, appealing for the public's understanding should changes happen.
All 12 Chinese companies originally on the exhibitor slate were among the participants that withdrew. On Sunday, the exhibition spaces of firms such as Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China and China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation, remained empty.
At a media preview on Sunday, the Ba Yi aerobatics team from China's People's Liberation Army Air Force took to the skies for an aerial display.
The six planes carried out dizzying manoeuvres, leaving a colourful trail of smoke, on their Singapore Airshow debut. Teams from the US and Singapore also performed.
Among the exhibitors that will go ahead and showcase their wares at the airshow is global technology, defence and engineering group ST Engineering. It is the biggest exhibitor, with a space of 2,000 sq m, the size of about four basketball courts.
It is showcasing about 100 of its innovations, featuring technology such as artificial intelligence, robotics and cyber solutions, catering to the commercial aviation sector and defence sector.
"As a smart technology and defence partner, we know what it takes to keep aircraft flying safely, win on a digital battlefield, and shape cities for a smarter, more sustainable future," said ST Engineering chief marketing officer Chew Men Leong.