The Singapore Airshow will retain its world top-three ranking with a 2012 event that will be bigger than any of its predecessors, according to show organizers Experia Events. Covered exhibit space for this year’s show total 50,000 sq m–5 percent bigger than in 2010. Outdoor space spanning 100,000 sq m has been filled with more than 65 aircraft–up from around 50 two years ago.
However, on several measures the rival Dubai Air Show still tops Singapore, having filled some 325,000 sq m of exhibit space in November 2011 and with 125 aircraft on show. The exhibitor count for both shows is pretty comparable, with “more than 900” here in Singapore compared with 960 in Dubai.
Singapore outguns Dubai in terms of total visitors expected at around 120,000 (of which some 80,000 will attend on the public days). Dubai, which is confined to trade visitors, drew more than 56,000 last year. Singapore also attracts a greater number of official delegations–266 compared with 194 in Dubai.
This morning, the official delegates will have the show entirely to themselves for two-and-a-half hours because trade visitors do not have access until noon. According to Experia managing director Jimmy Lau, this arrangement assures exhibitors direct access to the delegations through preset appointments.
One eye-catching differentiator between the two main contenders for the number-three spot in world air show rankings is the volume of announced orders. The 2011 Dubai show generated just over $63 billion, compared with $10 billion in Singapore back in 2010.
Analysts will be closely monitoring transactions announced here this week to gauge the condition of aerospace and defense markets in the Asia Pacific region. At face value, growth prospects remain strong but recent signs of softening in the Indian and Malaysian markets have prompted some to ponder whether expectations have been too high.
“Asia is still the [air transport] hotspot,” Lau told AIN on Saturday. “The feedback is that even if China slows down to one digit [economic growth], it is still huge growth in terms of passenger numbers.”
And what sets the Asia Pacific region apart in the global air transport market, according to Lau, is that airline passengers are more discerning customers with higher expectations for the travel experience. “If you want to stay competitive [as airlines] then your fleet has to be modern with good entertainment systems, and so forth,” he said.
Aircraft orders are expected this week in Singapore, most notably in the regional airline and business aviation sectors. Indonesian carrier Garuda is just one Asian operator expected to announce fleet growth plans at the air show.
In any case, the Singapore Airshow team clearly believes that the show’s future lies in diversification. Experia has introduced new pavilions covering Integrated Land Defense technology and UAVs. The Green Pavilion will feature a newly added component called “Deminars” (seminars and demonstrations combined), highlighting the industry’s efforts toward development of alternative fuel technologies.
The Singapore Airshow’s forums on doing business in China, India and Southeast Asia have proved to be very popular. About 150 people had been expected to attend each of these, but now more than 500 are booked in each case and organizers are scrambling to find additional space.
The Singapore show now includes separate pavilions for 22 nations or groups, including, for the first time, China and Ukraine. China has doubled its exhibit space this year to 700 sq m, but what many visitors will want to know is the extent of reported delays to both of its main new airliner programs–Comac’s C919 and Avic’s ARJ-21. The Chinese companies have been far from candid about these issues in the past.
“China has a statement to make [at the air show]. They want to demonstrate that they are doing well in R&D and making headway with their own technology,” commented Lau.
“The response to this year’s show has been very positive and we are delighted that the Singapore Airshow continues to be the event of choice for major players from across the aviation spectrum to network, exchange ideas and explore business opportunities,” said Lau. “Despite current economic uncertainties, we will be putting on our biggest show yet. This is a promising sign of things to come for the industry and especially for the Asia Pacific region,” he continued.