Bahrain courting bizav for inaugural airshow

 - May 12, 2009, 3:29 AM

Organizers of the new Bahrain International Air Show (BIAS) are here at EBACE (Booth No. 481) to convince business aviation companies that the Jan. 21-23, 2010 event could be a strong launch pad for expanding sales in the Middle East. The show is being planned on a limited scale to allow a maximum of 40 participating companies to have exclusive access to high-level buyers and prospective partners in the region.

Several business aviation firms committed to the Bahrain show last month, including Cessna, Gulfstream Aerospace, TAG Aeronautics (a Bombardier distributor) and Bell Helicopter Textron. According to Ahmed Nemat Abdul Rahim of the country’s Civil Aviation Affairs department, business aviation is growing fast there and the government has just approved four more executive charter firms to join long-established operator Bexair. Local operators Prestige Jet and Rizon Jet signed up here in Geneva yesterday to participate in the BIAS.

The new show will be held at Bahrain’s Sakhir Air Base, which is generally open only to the country’s royal flight department. It will feature purpose-built, luxury chalets where exhibitors will be able to park their display aircraft immediately in front.

Initially, there will not be separate exhibit halls, although they could be added for future events. There also will be opportunities for customer demonstration flights and participation in a full program of flying displays.

The event is being organized on behalf of the Bahrain government by Farnborough International, which also runs the biennial Farnborough airshow in the UK. “We have experienced a great deal of interest in BIAS from the business aviation community worldwide,” said Farnborough International exhibitions and events director Amanda Stainer. “This is unsurprising given the economic climate and the case for Bahrain as the ideal strategic location for business development within the Middle East.”

Bahrain is a 30-minute drive from the eastern province of Saudi Arabia and offers a convenient gateway for Western companies to access this market. The country has seen strong but more measured, and arguably more sustainable, economic growth than some neighboring Arabian Gulf states such as Dubai.