Asian Aerospace exits Changi in blaze of glory

 - November 30, 2006, 11:40 AM

Singapore’s 15th and final Asian Aerospace show, and the last airshow to be held here at the Changi Exhibition Centre, is living up to the promoters’ predictions of record visitor numbers to match the record 940-plus exhibitors.

Monday saw no fewer than 5,653 trade visitors negotiate the thorough but unfailingly courteous security screen, a better than 20-percent increase on the first-day total for 2004.

And if the flying display has been a little lackluster in terms of airplane numbers, the sight and sound of the Singapore Airlines-liveried Airbus A380 swooping and soaring over the palm-fringed waters of the South China Sea have done a lot to compensate.

Asian Aerospace co-organizer Reed Exhibitions, unable to agree to terms for future shows with the authorities here, has decided to chase the dragon to Hong Kong. There are powerful arguments for the move: as Clive Richardson, Reed’s senior vice president aerospace and defense, said here Monday, China is forecast to take a full 10 percent of the world’s airliner production over the next 10 years.

But China is not the only booming aerospace market in the region. Dinesh Keskar, Boeing Commercial Airplanes senior vice president sales, pointed out here yesterday that his company’s 2005 order book had benefited to the tune of $11 billion from Air-India orders alone, while Lion Air’s 30-copy order had launched the -900ER version of the 737. And both southeast and southwest Asia are expected to comfortably outpace world average economic growth over the next 20 years.

The old-name, new-base Asian Aerospace may be taking the first step into a beguiling future in September 2007. By the same token, the new-name, new-site Singapore Airshow set for February 2008 will have an established industrial and service base to rely on–one that Asian Aerospace has surely helped to create.

Last night, Singapore airshow managing director Jimmy Lau announced that 75 percent of exhibit space at the new Changi East venue has already been sold. Among the companies commiting early are EADS, Honeywell, ITT and Smiths.