Public day tickets for air show capped due to coronavirus

Ticket numbers to be less than half of last edition's; 70 exhibitors have pulled out

The Ba Yi aerobatics team from China's People's Liberation Army Air Force took to the skies yesterday and carried out dizzying manoeuvres.
The Ba Yi aerobatics team from China's People's Liberation Army Air Force took to the skies yesterday and carried out dizzying manoeuvres. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

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's due to the coronavirus situation here.

More than 70 companies have also withdrawn from the exhibitor slate for the event, which begins tomorrow and runs till Sunday.

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 yesterday.

The withdrawals were due to recent travel restrictions and stricter company policies on non-essential employee travel in the light of the coronavirus situation.

Mr Leck said the organisers "respect the decision" of the companies that have 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.

More than 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 in the 2018 edition, said Mr Leck.

When asked if the air show will be cancelled if the situation worsens and the 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 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," he added.

In the light of the coronavirus situation, precautionary measures are being adopted, including seat tagging at 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 encouraged to greet one another by waving and bowing, instead of shaking hands, to minimise physical contact.

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 Dorscon code yellow.

They decided to go on with the show after assessing the situation and risks, he added.

Appealing for the public's understanding should changes happen, he said: "But we also recognise that the situation is evolving quickly, so there could be developments and we may have to adjust along the way."

All 12 Chinese companies originally on the exhibitor slate were among the participants that withdrew. The exhibition spaces of firms such as Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China and China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation remained empty yesterday.

At a media preview yesterday, 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, in their Singapore Airshow debut. Teams from the United States and Singapore also performed.

Global technology, defence and engineering group ST Engineering will be the biggest exhibitor, with a space of 2,000sqm, the size of about four basketball courts.

It will showcase about 100 innovations featuring technology such as artificial intelligence, robotics and cyber solutions for 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 its chief marketing officer Chew Men Leong.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2020, with the headline Public day tickets for air show capped due to coronavirus. Subscribe