Few would dispute the fact that the annual European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) has been a roaring success. A decade ago, the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) held its annual meetings at a hotel in the suburbs of Brussels. They were extremely worthwhile events, but what has been achieved here at Geneva’s Palais d’Expositions over the past six years has really put business aviation on the map in Europe.
The EBACE show has already outgrown its original Hall 7 at Palexpo and has moved into Hall 6 to accommodate further growth. The anticipated attendance of more than 9,000 visitors remains staggering to those who remember the much smaller Brussels assemblies. And with the event drawing ever more exhibitors and visitors from throughout Europe, as well as the neighboring Middle East, North Africa and Russia, even more growth seems perfectly attainable.
EBACE’s success is a validation of the strategy adopted by the U.S. National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) of seeking to spread the bizav gospel worldwide through partnerships with associations on different continents. On a smaller scale this has seen trade shows established in both Latin America and Asia.
NBAA’s latest venture–the Asian Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (ABACE)–made a successful debut in Shanghai, China, last August. The biennial event is to be staged next in Hong Kong in February 2007. Last year’s event drew 2,100 visitors and 54 exhibitors. It was a modest start but most who went felt that ABACE had established a credible foundation in
a marketplace that has real, if long-term, potential for business aviation growth. The show is organized with the support of the Asian Business Aviation Association.
The Shanghai show was held at a downtown convention center, with a modest static display presented at the Chinese city’s Hongqiao Airport. The 2007 show (February 6 and 7) will benefit from being staged at the Hong Kong International Airport, with indoor exhibits and meetings in the gateway’s impressive AsiaWorld Expo center and the static display at the nearby Hong Kong Business Aviation Center. The plan is to hold the event annually, although no firm decision has yet been made on whether it will have a fixed venue or whether it will rove around Asia and the Pacific Rim.
The Latin American Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (LABACE) has made a somewhat less sure start. Three events have been staged in Sao Paulo, Brazil, since its inception in 2003. Although the exhibitor and visitor numbers are actually larger than those at the first ABACE (4,971 and 87, respectively), many participants have suggested that the show just hasn’t gained sufficient traction yet and is in need of restructuring.
NBAA and the Brazilian bizav body Associacao Brasileira de Aviacao Geral (ABAG) have made changes since the 2005 event. It has now been shifted from March to August 10 to 12. Importantly, the whole show will now be held at Sao Paulo’s downtown Congonhas Airport, rather than using a remote convention center for the indoor exhibits and meetings. But the annual event does seem destined
to remain in Brazil for the time being, resisting suggestions that it might rotate to other cities in Latin America. In fact, Brazil does account for a large chunk of the continent’s business aviation activity.
Both the ABACE and LABACE shows follow the successful formula of the EBACE and NBAA events in providing a worthwhile opportunity for business aviation executives to engage directly with regional legislators on key issues. They also provide an opportunity for prospective new business aircraft users to see the very best of what this mode of transportation has to offer.
As for EBACE, it is destined to stay here in Geneva at least until 2009.
In the U.S., the next NBAA show will reconvene in Orlando, Florida, in the fall (October 17 to 19). This will be a second consecutive year in the Sunshine State since the 2005 NBAA gathering had to be hastily relocated from New Orleans following the terrible destruction of Hurricane Katrina.