Singapore Airshow to Send Important Signal “Open for Business”

Although November’s Dubai Airshow marked the first major aviation event to take place in nearly two years due to the coronavirus hiatus, the Singapore Airshow from February 15-18 will no doubt prove just as important because it sends a very important signal that the Asia-Pacific region is open for business.

With few alternative options, the organizers’ decision to continue the show in its regular calendar slot has led some trade visitors and exhibitors to reverse their earlier decisions to attend, as general measures to stop the spread of the virus on the island have complicated participation.

An update from Singapore’s Ministry of Health on Jan. 21 said the number of confirmed cases of Omicron had started to rise more sharply in the previous week. Vaccinated travelers could enter Changi Airport through vaccinated taxiways without quarantine, but had to undergo mandatory regular testing.

“With our high vaccination rates, regular use of booster doses and safe management measures (SMM), including differentiated SMM by vaccination, the number of severe cases remains low,” he said. “However, as Omicron is more transmissible than Delta, we must be prepared for further outbreaks of infections in the coming weeks.”

The Straits Times said it expected exhibitor attendance at the show to fall to around a third of the 2020 figure of 930, adding that business jet OEMs Gulfstream and Bombardier were among the big names to cancel their participation plans before the end of January.

As of January 31, the official list of exhibitors included 314 companies from 26 countries, with the United States supplying 102, Singapore 38, Australia 35, France 33 and Germany 20. Boeing, Airbus and Embraer all planned to exhibit. attend, as does Honeywell International. , Collins Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, Liebherr-Aerospace SAS and Lufthansa Technik.

An official list of planes on static display included just 11 planes, including three Airbus cargo planes and the A350-1000, five business jets and a helicopter. Organizers have scheduled an Aviation CEO Forum on February 15 and an invitation-only Sustainable Aviation Forum on February 16-17.

“Today’s safe management measures [will] will impact the overall ability to attend the next airshow,” said Leck Chet Lam, Managing Director of Experia Events. AIN. “We have planned an event that relies on the quality of exhibitors and visitors to ensure a meaningful event for our participants. All of us involved in the Singapore Airshow, exhibitors, visitors, government, must work even more closely to find the best way forward and ensure that we never lose sight of the long-term potential of the aviation industry, whatever the immediate situation. could be.”

The region’s Covid-19 strategies have hit Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Changi Airport hard. Official statistics released by the Changi Airport Group show that after handling 68.3 million passengers in 2019, throughput fell 83% to 11.8 million in 2020 and another 74% to 3.1 million the last year.

“No Asia-Pacific route is now in the top 20 international aviation city pairs,” said David Bentley, chief airports analyst at the Sydney-based Center for Aviation (CAPA). AIN. “The recovery of international capacities was much stronger for Europe and North America.”

Changi Airport has seen a noticeable lull in recent months. “The Terminal 5 project has been put on hold for a study on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the aviation sector and we have nothing significant on future developments to share at this time,” he said. said an airport spokesperson. AIN.

However, CAPA’s Bentley said some airports such as Seoul Incheon were continuing with multi-year expansion plans, while others, such as Hong Kong, had made no announcements about scaling back their plans. “The Hong Kong government’s plans include an additional runway and [represent] one of the most expensive projects in the world,” he said.

The International Air Transport Association’s “Economic Performance of the Airline Industry” report said in October that Asia-Pacific airlines, in general, have suffered from strict government behavior, with approaches slower and more diverse in the deployment of vaccination compared to Europe and North America, particularly in emerging countries.

“On the other hand, China’s domestic market is strong and the country’s airlines have started to break even,” he said. “Additionally, the region’s role as a manufacturing hub benefits local airline cargo revenues. Overall, net losses in 2022 are expected to decline to $2.4 billion from $11.2 billion. »

Subhas Menon, chief executive of the Association of Asia-Pacific Airlines (AAPA), said AIN the industry has continued to actively engage governments to take a Covid-normal approach and gradually reopen borders with simplified protocols, policies and practices, as “the current arrangements are complex and confusing, which in itself is a brake on demand,” he explained. “Pent-up demand is transparent as bookings pile up as soon as a route is reopened. The problem is that borders have remained closed, while travel restrictions have restricted airline operations and therefore demand.”

Cargo helped to mitigate the growing losses, but never did enough to overcome the loss of passenger revenue. “Let’s hope the omicron threat fades,” Menon said. “It is important that governments adopt simple, objective and risk-based regulations and protocols to reopen safely and transparently.”

Thomas Boettger, Lufthansa Technik Vice President for Corporate Sales Asia-Pacific, said AIN in December, the regional Covid-19 outlook saw some countries impose new restrictions at the end of 2021. Additionally, following their airlines’ contacts with African countries, Singapore suspended access for travelers from the Emirates Arab States, Qatar and Saudi Arabia until further notice. early December.

“The Japanese have confined themselves again,” he said. “They were just opening for students and people on visas; this has now been reduced to only Japanese nationals. Singapore is increasing slightly, but still keeping the vaccinated traffic lanes open. The quarantine in China has been extended to 21 days. This is probably one of the big question marks in the face of the recovery in [2022].”