The rapid growth of the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) has undoubtedly been an inspiration to those seeking to institute dedicated industry shows in other regions of the world. Since 2001, when EBACE established itself here in Geneva, annual bizav gatherings have sprung up in Asia, Latin America and, most recently, the Middle East.
The Middle East Business Aviation (MEBA) conference and exhibition made a good first impression when it had its debut three months ago at Dubai’s Airport Expo Center in the United Arab Emirates. The inaugural event was organized by Fairs & Exhibitions (the company behind the main Dubai airshow), with the backing of the new Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA).
MEBA 2007 drew 90 exhibitors and 31 aircraft from 20 countries, as well as 2,401 visitors. Almost $1 billion worth of new business was announced during the January 31 to February 1 event, which also featured a full conference program backed by senior local aviation officials, including H.H. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of the Dubai Department of Civil Aviation.
The next show is to span three days, Nov. 23 to 25, 2008. Dubai is expected to be the venue once again, although officially other locations in the Arabian Gulf are still being evaluated.
The Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (ABACE) was held, for the second time, in February. Following its August 2006 debut in Shanghai, China, the 2007 event was staged in the no-less-dynamic city of Hong Kong. At 2,300, the number of visitors was just about unchanged, but the tally of exhibitors grew fairly significantly from 35 to 65, and there were 12 aircraft on static display.
ABACE is organized by the U.S. National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), with the backing of the Asian Business Aviation Association (AsBAA) which held its annual general meeting during the show. A couple of days after the Hong Kong exhibition, on February 9, NBAA and AsBAA staged a joint regional forum in Nagoya, Japan. Both events gave the industry lobbying groups direct access to influential aviation officials from the region.
The Latin American Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (LABACE) is now in a state of flux after the cancellation of the 2006 event. In January, NBAA announced that it is relinquishing direct control of the show to Brazilian business aviation association ABAG, with which it launched the show back in 2003. The timing of the event has also been changing, pushing it back from the first to the third quarter of the year, with the 2007 show to be staged August 9 to 11–once again in São Paulo, Brazil.
The change has put ABAG in sole charge of organizing the LABACE exhibition. NBAA, which is still an active partner in EBACE, will continue to support LABACE through promotions and participation by NBAA president Ed Bolen in the event program.
Since its inception four years ago, LABACE has struggled to find support from the broader Latin American aviation community. Its standing was further diminished last year when the show was cancelled “because of a combination of factors,” most notably construction at São Paulo’s Congonhas Airport.
When the construction schedule was accelerated, it became obvious that it would create major problems with the static display area. The site had been selected because it would have allowed the aircraft static display to be set up immediately adjacent to the exhibit hall.
While the specific site for this year’s event is still to be determined, ABAG chairman Rui Thomas de Aquino has said it will be in a place that will allow colocation of the static display and exhibit hall. The downtown Congonhas Airport still seems the most probable choice.