LABACE Show Looks for World Cup Boost

 - July 3, 2014, 3:15 AM
The static ramp at last year’s LABACE was packed with 68 aircraft. The event attracted some 13,000 attendees. Organizers don’t expect that number to grow significantly this year, as the venue will be more constrained than last year.

Organizers of the annual Latin American Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (LABACE) are working fast to put together this year’s show, to be staged at São Paulo Congonhas Airport (August 12-14). Exhibit space sales opened on May 27, and the drawing to assign specific booth locations to exhibiting companies followed on June 10. Last year’s event drew 180 exhibitors, with 68 aircraft on static display.

Brazilian industry group Associação Brasileira de Aviação Geral (ABAG) has played down expectations for LABACE 2014 to grow, citing tough trading conditions for its members over the past 12 months and delays in finalizing the available facilities for this year’s show. The Congonhas site will be remodeled by the time the show opens.

One constraint is that the hangar that has previously housed exhibit booths is only partly available this year. ABAG has instead rented a large tent that will be positioned at the show entrance so that all visitors must pass through the booth area. But the tent is smaller than the hangar space used for previous shows.

“We’re working with the expectation that the fair will be smaller this year than in 2013, which was smaller than in 2012. If it’s bigger, it will be only slightly bigger,” said ABAG executive director Ricardo Nogueira.

Last year the LABACE show attracted 13,823 visitors, markedly down on the 16,722 who attended in 2012. The organizers attributed the decline last year to bad weather that marred the first two days of the event.

World Cup Brings Good News

However, the Brazilian business aviation community has received a welcome boost from the World Cup soccer tournament (June 12 to July 13). The first week of the tournament gave many local private charter companies and service providers a surge in demand.

“All our airplanes are chartered for the World Cup, there’s a lot customer aircraft activity, and we’re doing a lot of FBO work for international visitors,” said a spokesman for TAM Aviação Executiva. The company said ramp space at the airports involved has been in short supply, resulting in traffic bottlenecks. São Paulo-based helicopter charter operator and hangar space provider Helipark said it expects to be about as busy as normal during the tournament–given that the city is well established as a hub for high-frequency rotorcraft operations.

Just ahead of the first World Cup game, Brazil’s Secretariat of Civil Aviation reported that 83 percent of slots assigned for business aviation use had been reserved–representing 89,640 planned movements (including positioning flights) out of a total of 108,000. Slots have been reserved for around 1,000 business aircraft that could potentially make flights during the tournament (although many of these may be cancelled as soccer teams are eliminated). Slot bookings were especially heavy for flights in and out of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. In the early days of the tournament, operators experienced delays at Porto Alegre in the south of Brazil, where fog can be an issue and where the airport is still awaiting approval to use its newly installed Cat II instrument landing system.

Efforts to set up the LABACE show site will not begin in earnest until July 14, as until then Congonhas Airport will be entirely preoccupied with World Cup traffic. The building used for LABACE registration and conference sessions for previous shows has been commandeered as a remote terminal for business aviation during the soccer tournament. Investments made by airport authority Infraero in this facility should benefit LABACE when it is handed over for use by ABAG.

Bombardier will host the latest in its series of Safety Standdown events on the eve of the LABACE show (August 11, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Grand Hyatt Hotel São Paulo). On August 13, AeroPodium’s Business Aviation in Latin America conference will be held at the show site from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

LABACE show hours are noon to 8 p.m. on August 12 and 13 and noon to 6 p.m. on August 14.