Singapore Airshow to go on despite pullouts, but with health 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

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

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

The measures include additional temperature screening at access points at the Singapore Expo and Changi Exhibition Centre, as well as the provision of hand sanitisers and a team of doctors and medics to attend to visitors who are feeling unwell, the organiser said in a statement yesterday.

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 yesterday the cancellation of a key aviation conference - the Singapore Airshow Aviation Leadership Summit - involving 300 government officials, civil aviation authorities, airport operators and airline executives.

The cancellation "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", the organiser said.

Of the 16 exhibitors which have pulled out so far, 10 are from China and six from four other countries. They include aerospace companies Gulfstream, Textron Aviation and Bombardier.

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

The South Korean air force's aerobatic team, the Black Eagles, also confirmed its withdrawal from this year's airshow, making it the second consecutive no-show for the team at the Singapore 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 yesterday, with more than 420 deaths. The World Health Organisation has declared the crisis a global health emergency.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 05, 2020, with the headline Singapore Airshow to go on despite pullouts, but with health measures. Subscribe