Even as planning began for LABACE 2006, the dates had not been announced as AIN went to press pending selection of a new venue. In São Paulo this year, ripples of discontent with the show were sufficient to dampen even the spirits of NBAA president Ed Bolen.
NBAA has cosponsored the show with the Associação Brasileira de Aviação Geral (ABAG, the Brazilian association of general aviation) since the first event in 2003. Both organizations had hoped to see the gathering develop into a successful regional business aviation trade show that would draw visitors, delegates and exhibitors from throughout Latin America. Now there is some question as to the extent of its success with that goal.
In an interview on the second day of this year’s event, Bolen initially focused on the positive aspects of this year’s show, pointing out that the day-one attendance was up 16.5 percent from the same point in the previous year’s show.
He also noted that the aircraft static display, while still at Congonhas Airport–about a 30-minute ride from the exhibit hall–had been moved to a large ramp area to accommodate more airplanes, and to make it “more user-friendly in terms of access.” There were 21 aircraft on display at the static area, up from last year’s show.
On the other hand, Bolen conceded that LABACE is experiencing difficulties and that organizers have made and are continuing to make an effort to improve the show.
One of the efforts is to emphasize the regional nature of the show. Bolen said that the European Business Aviation Association Convention & Exhibition in Geneva, which has been particularly successful, is at its heart a regional European show. And he explained that even though it has a high international participation, NBAA’s own U.S.-based show is in essence a North American regional show. And he added that the fledgling Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition, scheduled for August in Shanghai, is a regional show for Asia.
“For LABACE to be a success in the long term, it has to be a truly regional Latin American show,” said Bolen. “And if our surveys indicate that it isn’t, we’re going to have to have conversations with representatives from other Latin American countries to find out why they’re not being drawn to LABACE and what we need to do to gain their participation.”
Among the possibilities “under active discussion,” he said, is a change of venue to another Latin American country. “We are definitely concerned that this not be perceived as just a Brazilian show.”
Bolen also suggested that some affiliation with the Feria Internacional del Aire y del Espacio (FIDAE) airshow, held every other year in Santiago, Chile, might be a possibility. “It might make sense to have the two shows in alternate years, or to combine them into one show,” he said, noting that any such discussions to date have been only internal.
Organizers are also considering the length of the show and the timing with regard to holidays and weekends.
Bolen said part of efforts to improve LABACE will include an extensive one-on-one survey of exhibitors, “to get their thoughts on what we’ve done, and how we could do it better.”
Asked if LABACE is a reality for next year, Bolen replied, “It certainly appears to be, but that will depend on what we hear from people who participated this year, about their experiences, whether there are things we can do to enhance those experiences and make it more productive for them or whether they simply prefer not to participate in the show.”
Bolen said NBAA is not locked into LABACE as a sponsor in terms of its agreement with ABAG. The agreement, he added, is a joint venture that “allows NBAA the option of doing what is best for its customers [and] we’re comfortable with that flexibility.”