Singapore Airshow 2020: Emptier hallways but aerobatics still wow crowd

An unoccupied booth on the opening day of the Singapore Airshow, presumably from an exhibitor's withdrawal due to the coronavirus. There was a noticeable drop in crowds at what is billed as Asia's largest aerospace and defence event. Above: An aerial
An aerial display by the Ba Yi Aerobatics Team from China's People's Liberation Army Air Force on the opening day of the Singapore Airshow yesterday. Left: VisitorsST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
An unoccupied booth on the opening day of the Singapore Airshow, presumably from an exhibitor's withdrawal due to the coronavirus. There was a noticeable drop in crowds at what is billed as Asia's largest aerospace and defence event. Above: An aerial
Visitors watching the aerial display. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
An unoccupied booth on the opening day of the Singapore Airshow, presumably from an exhibitor's withdrawal due to the coronavirus. There was a noticeable drop in crowds at what is billed as Asia's largest aerospace and defence event. Above: An aerial
An unoccupied booth on the opening day of the Singapore Airshow, presumably from an exhibitor's withdrawal due to the coronavirus. There was a noticeable drop in crowds at what is billed as Asia's largest aerospace and defence event.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Several exhibitors sit idle at near-empty booths while larger firms like Airbus and Boeing bustle with people

The seventh edition of the Singapore Airshow opened yesterday morning to emptier hallways, even as staples like deal announcements and aerobatics went ahead.

Even though it is open only to trade visitors for now - public days begin this weekend - there was a noticeable drop in attendance at what is billed as Asia's largest aerospace and defence event.

Industry observers said the reduced numbers were a "significant" drop from previous years, with one noting that previously, visitors had to "elbow others out of the way" in order to see an exhibit.

At this year's event, The Straits Times observed several exhibitors sitting idle at near-empty booths, on a day which was supposed to be bustling with trade representatives.

In an opening speech on Monday, Experia Events chairman Vincent Chong said the event is expected to see about 40,000 trade visitors.

And in a reminder of the corona-virus' impact on the event, the booth for helicopter maker Bell stood empty, while a big space in the middle of the hall could have possibly been Lockheed Martin's, the largest exit of the airshow.

However, the ST Engineering stand was bustling and larger companies like Airbus and Boeing still drew large crowds.

Major announcements also went ahead. JTC Corporation announced $500 million worth of agreements with multiple aviation companies, while Airbus revealed an advanced technology demonstrator with a "blended wing" body.

The airshow was opened by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, who said in a Facebook post that exhibitors he spoke to were keen to carry on with the event.

"They are confident of the eventual recovery in this sector, especially in Asia," he said in the post.

On a brighter note, the thumping aerobatics continued to be a fan favourite as planes from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force and the US Air Force (USAF) wowed the crowd with their stunts.


The Singapore Airshow is only open to trade visitors for now - public days begin this weekend. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

The USAF trotted out the F-35B in Singapore for the first time.

 
 

Spectators were treated to a flypast and then a mid-air hover by the stealth jet, demonstrating its advanced capabilities.

US Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Rene Clarke Cooper told ST that Singapore's purchase of the F-35B jets was part of the Republic's broader relationship with the United States.

"We do not just transfer unique technology to anybody. We transfer unique technologies to partners and allies that we are working with, that we are interoperable with," Mr Cooper said.

Correction note: This story has been corrected to say that it is the seventh edition of the airshow this year. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 12, 2020, with the headline 'Emptier hallways but aerobatics still wow crowd'. Print Edition | Subscribe