Paris Air Show commissioner Louis Le Portz wants nothing but the best for this week’s Farnborough International show, while predicting that next year’s Paris show will be as successful as its 2009 edition in terms of the number of exhibitors and country delegations expected. “Le Bourget and Farnborough are crucial for our profession; the industry needs us both,” he said.
Improvements at the Le Bourget Airport site are already under way, he said,
at the same time acknowledging that exhibitors will continue to cut costs, reducing their chalet space and closely watching budgets they allocate delegations to send to the event. For Le Portz the event is a “must” for the industry, and some countries, such as China, India and Russia, have requested more space than they took in 2009.
Le Portz also indicated he expects at least the same number of exhibitors as at the last event. “The low point of the crisis is behind us. Sales began to take off at the beginning of March and the signs are very positive,” he stated. “Aerospace is ramping up, with production rising and air traffic growing. We expect a vintage Paris Air Show in 2011.”
Despite the tough economic times, Le Portz maintained that airshows are vital shop windows for the aerospace and defense industries. He pointed out that even the business aviation sector, which has been especially hard hit by the fallout from the financial crisis, has seen successful trade shows in the U.S. at the NBAA event and at EBACE in Europe.
“Le Bourget and Farnborough are not competitors and are international forums rather than regional shows, so the fact that in these circumstances Farnborough is sold out is very good for us, too,” said the Paris Air Show boss. But, he added, increases in attendance at Le Bourget are never likely to be spectacular because of the physical limits on expansion due to the airfield’s proximity to the crowded Paris suburbs. Nonetheless, there is scope for expanding space within the show area itself GIFAS, the French aerospace industry association that organizes the biennial event through its subsidiary SIAE, will provide more exhibition halls with a new look and an upgraded air-conditioning system.
“In 2011 all 200 of the most important [aerospace] companies will be in Paris,” predicted Le Portz. “Indications from the U.S. are that no major companies intend to cancel next year and one very big company is even considering holding a board meeting at the show.” He expects two or three new countries to attend and more small- and medium-size companies from France and abroad to take up space left by the big companies.
Le Portz said that GIFAS always tries to hold down costs, but he pointed out that major trade shows are inherently expensive to run. “Every two years we have to build a temporary town accommodating 20,000 people with quality air-conditioned structures and modern telecommunications systems, including free Wi-Fi access inside and outside the show,” he said.
GIFAS (Hall 1 Stand A15) itself has cut its Le Bourget costs by halving its permanent organizing team 30 to 15. At the same time, the group has sought to improve its approach to project management, working to tighter budgets and deadlines with a program based on 7,000 separate actions that have to be 95 percent complete one month before the show opens.
Exhibitors’ opinions about the airshow are assessed in surveys by an independent agency and Le Portz claimed that Paris scores higher each time. “After each show we assess the survey’s findings and the main problem remains traffic, something we always target but cannot master alone,” he said. “We are in permanent contact with the authorities who are aware of the area’s traffic problems. We will again hire 200 buses to carry people arriving from Paris at the Le Bourget railroad station to the show site. We are improving entrance and parking facilities there for cars. And inside the show there will be an extra street for golf carts. In 2007 we solved the problems concerning both the organization of badges and parking. These systems worked much better in 2009 and will be closely monitored in 2011,” he added.