SINGAPORE - The Singapore Airshow will go ahead in February next year, but likely in a shortened format without days for members of the public to enter.
The biennial event is expected to start as planned on Feb 15 at the Changi Exhibition Centre, sources told The Straits Times.
But it is set to end earlier on Feb 18, instead of Feb 20, due to the cancellation of the planned public days. In previous editions, people would go to the airshow over the weekend to view aerial performances by various air forces and get up close to aircraft on display.
Several precautions to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission will be in place.
For example, foreign participants have to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Pre-event testing and capacity limits will be implemented as well.
In response to queries from ST, Mr Leck Chet Lam, managing director of the organiser of the airshow, Experia Events, confirmed that Singapore Airshow 2022 will take place as planned, "with safe management measures in place to ensure the highest levels of safety for all attendees".
The Singapore Airshow is billed by its organisers as Asia's most influential airshow. Its attendees include high-level government and military delegations, as well as top executives from aerospace and defence firms around the world.
The first four days of the airshow are usually reserved for trade visitors.
The two public days thereafter are ticketed events. In February 2020, organisers slashed the number of tickets to less than half of what it was previously as a precaution due to the emerging Covid-19 pandemic.
More than 20,000 public visitors attended the event last year, about one-third of the 70,000 public visitors in 2018.
ST understands that more than 10,000 attendees are expected over the four trade days of the 2022 Singapore Airshow.
In the 2020 edition, organisers said almost 30,000 trade attendees from 110 countries and regions attended the event.
There were 930 participating companies from 45 countries. More than 70 companies withdrew prior to the event due to concerns about the coronavirus.
The organisers' decision to proceed with the Singapore Airshow comes ahead of the Dubai Airshow, which opens on Sunday (Nov 14).
The Dubai Airshow, which is comparable to the Singapore Airshow in terms of its scale, will be open until Nov 18. Its organisers have said that the show will feature more than 1,200 exhibitors from over 20 countries. More than 160 commercial, military and private jets will be on display as well.
Independent aviation analyst Brendan Sobie from Sobie Aviation said the global aerospace industry is eager to resume airshows and large-scale in-person meetings.
The question now is whether Singapore can transition to an endemic Covid-19 phase fast enough to match Dubai, which is already open, he added.
"An airshow is not only about checking out the latest technology or having on-site meetings, but also about networking and large-scale events around the city," said Mr Sobie.
"A successful airshow would signal Singapore's return as a global aviation and aerospace hub. But at the moment, the recovery here has only just started and it is not yet clear if Singapore will reach by February a point where this can be achieved."