Smaller-scale Singapore Airshow still has 'key role' in connecting aviation community

China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force aerobatics team Ba Yi performing at the last Singapore Airshow in February 2020. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The upcoming Singapore Airshow will still play an important role in connecting the aviation community, despite it being smaller in scale than previous editions, said its organiser.

Its value lies in providing a platform for participants to meet in person, said Experia's managing director Leck Chet Lam on Wednesday (Jan 26) at a virtual panel discussion on aviation recovery ahead of the air show, which will run from Feb 15 to 18.

A pared-down air show could also allow for better conversations among participants, said Mr Leck, citing the experience from the last air show in 2020.

"The feedback that we had was that the conversations were a lot deeper... with the time to speak, the time to interact, the time to understand what the (different) needs are," he added, in response to a question on how the smaller scale would affect the air show.

The 2020 air show was held when the Covid-19 pandemic was beginning to sweep across the globe, and about 70 companies - 8 per cent of all exhibitors - withdrew on short notice then, owing to concerns over the coronavirus.

The Straits Times reported on Sunday (Jan 23) that there will be far fewer exhibitors at this year's air show, compared with the 2020 edition.

Companies such as aircraft manufacturers Gulfstream and Bombardier have dropped out, amid concerns about the pandemic and Covid-19 restrictions.

A traditional high-profile aviation summit has been cancelled for the second edition running as well.

Mr Leck said: "The number of people coming in, whether it is 60,000, 6,000, 600 or six, it doesn't really change the role of the air show - it creates a platform for us to talk in person."

Other panellists said the air show will allow industry players to come together to discuss solutions on various issues, such as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and sustainability in aviation.

An air display at the 2020 Singapore Airshow. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Asked about the outlook for Singapore's aviation sector in 2022, panellist Lim Ching Kiat - Changi Airport Group's (CAG) managing director of air hub development - said its recovery is also dependent on other countries opening up their borders.

CAG is hopeful that this year will be better for the aviation sector than 2021, said Mr Lim, who was joined on the panel by Mr Leck and senior executives from Airbus, Boeing and Women in Aviation International.

But he declined to give a forecast as to how the recovery will pan out.

On what it will take for air travel in Asia-Pacific to experience a stronger recovery, Mr Anand Stanley, president for Asia-Pacific at Airbus, said: "We still have semblances of a quarantine-based regime and border closures.

"These have to be lifted, so that the freedom of movement returns, and, in turn, demand returns."

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