Business Aviation to Loom Large at Relocated Dubai Airshow

 - November 3, 2013, 5:10 AM
Business aviation will account for almost a quarter of all exhibitors at the 2013 Dubai Airshow and as much as one third of the aircraft on the static display at the new airshow site at Dubai World Central, which is almost twice the size of the previous location.

Dubai Airshow organizer F&E Aerospace is pressing the reset button on the biennial event, staging the Middle East’s premier aerospace and defense gathering at a new purpose-built site at Dubai World Central. The show is to be permanently based in the new Aviation City zone at DWC, which is a vast new economic development hub built around the new Al Maktoum International Airport near the Jebel Ali seaport.

Also at the November 17 to 21 gathering will be no fewer than 210 first-time exhibitors among the an anticipated 1,000 exhibiting companies (a 7-percent increase on the 2011 show). As of October 17, organizers had confirmed 1,017 exhibitor bookings with a few more booth spaces still available.

Business aviation appears set to make a strong showing in Dubai, with the sector expected to account for as many as 50 of the 150 aircraft anticipated on the static display, and around 220 of the exhibiting companies. In addition to all the sector’s main airframers, leading bizav service providers such as Jet Aviation, ExecuJet Aviation, Royal Jet and JetEx are booked to exhibit at the show.

According to data recently reported by the Middle East Business Aviation Association, the bizav market in the region is expected to be worth $1 billion annually by 2018. By 2020, the group projects that more than 1,375 business jets will be registered in Middle Eastern countries.

A growing number of these newcomers will be from Arabian Gulf states, reflecting the region’s rising stature as a center for aviation manufacturing and service activities. These will include MRO provider Saudi Aerospace Engineering and business aviation services group Alpha Star from Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s aviation tool supplier Franke Care Systems.

Several exhibitors from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) itself have increased the size of their presence at the Dubai Airshow, including defense group Tawazan, Global Aerospace Logistics and Airfreight Aviation Limited. Other clear growth trends include a 10-percent uptick in the Chinese presence at the show, with 15 new companies present, a 100-percent increase in the number of Canadian exhibitors (with a total of 23 firms) and 10-percent increase in the U.S. presence (to 145 companies).

The UAE now accounts for the largest group of exhibitors at the Dubai show, followed by Saudi Arabia, the U.S., the UK and France. In addition to the latter three, nine other countries will be represented in national pavilions: Russia, the Ukraine, Germany, Turkey, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and newcomer Sweden and Romania.

New Features, Returning Favorites

F&E is anticipating approximately 60,000 trade visitors, which would represent a 5-percent increase on the 2011 event. The main event has always been for trade visitors only, but another innovation is Skyview, which will provide a way for non-trade aviation enthusiasts to enjoy the highlights of the show from November 18 to 21.

As is commonly the case ahead of major airshows, only a partial list of static display aircraft was confirmed as of press time. A Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner operated by Qatar Airways will undoubtedly be a highlight of the show, which will also see the regional debut of the Airbus A400M military transport.

Another new feature of the Dubai Airshow is a new pavilion highlighting aviation’s role in humanitarian aid. Participants will include the UN World Food Program and Care by Air, as well as a total of 15 companies and organizations involved in humanitarian missions, such as the UAE’s Rus Aviation, Agusta Westland, Lebanon’s Med Airways and Royal Air Maroc. Exhibitors and visitors will be given the opportunity to make donations to the World Food Program and/or the Red Crescent.

The 2013 Dubai Airshow will also see the return of the Gulf Aviation Training Event (November 18-19). Another renewed fixture of the event will be Futures Day–aimed at inspiring young people to embark on careers in aviation–on the final day of the airshow (November 21).

F&E believes the strength of the Dubai Airshow has been reinforced by the new data on air transport growth in the Middle East. Boeing’s latest Current Market Outlook for the period 2013-2032 projects a traffic growth rate of 3.8 percent, compounded annually. The International Air Transport Association recently projected that Middle Eastern carriers are expected to record collective profits of $1.4 billion this year, making it one of the more profitable regions of the world.

The new show site is almost twice the size of the old Airport Expo location at Dubai International Airport, at 645,000 sq m (almost 7 million square feet). In addition to greatly improved road access and parking space, the new site offers several meeting and conference rooms. There is far more space for the static display and organizers have been able extend the daily flying display to three hours, without the need for a break to allow for airline departures and arrivals.

According to Michele van Akelijen, F&E Aerospace’s Middle East managing director, the Dubai Airshow has worked hard to deliver maximum possible value to exhibitors, while also improving the experience of trade visitors. “The biggest thing that exhibitors want is a return on their investment and that means creating a platform for them to do business effectively and meet the right people, so we’ve been expanding our official delegation plans,” she told AIN.