ABACE officials are encouraged that this year’s event is living up to expectations, with an expanded footprint, a more diverse static display fleet and strong attendance showing the beginnings of a maturing market. “ABACE 2016 has met or exceeded expectations in every imaginable way,” said Ed Bolen, president of event co-organizer National Business Aviation Association.
He noted that the show has attracted a spectrum of aircraft, drawing everything from an emergency medical services-outfitted Bombardier Learjet 60 to the debut of the large-cabin Dassault Falcon 8X. He also noted the cross-section of leaders speaking at Tuesday’s opening general session, which included international leaders, Chinese officials and the first major address of the ICAO secretary general Fang Liu to a business aviation audience. “This speaks well of the show and the reputation to everyone.”
Bolen added that the feedback from the exhibitors and attendees has been strong, with exhibitors indicating that the meetings with attendees have been of a “very good quality.”
But as important as the show has been to connect vendors with would-be customers, ABACE has played an important role in the expansion of the business aviation market, he said. “The focus of ABACE has always been to grow business aviation.”
It has also served as a venue to educate the public and government about the industry, as well as help new entrants learn more about how to build a successful business.
Charlie Mularksi, chairman of co-organizer Asian Business Aviation Association (AsBAA), agreed, saying, “ABACE has been the perfect time to meet and create energy in the market.”
The show has brought together operators, fostering a tighter and more collaborative community. “We are seeing a change in how operators and providers are working together,” Mularski noted.
ABACE also has been the venue for the organization’s annual meeting, and it has been growing every year as the show attracts more aviation businesses. “ABACE is our membership rally,” he said.
It also has helped build government support for the industry since officials are able to see the varied roles the industry plays, such as charitable operations, Mularski pointed out. The show also is opening possibilities to a new generation, as its student day, which is being held today, is now attracting students not only in Shanghai but in other parts of the country.
Bolen noted the maturation of the show as the fleet on display has diversified from one that primarily involved turbine aircraft to encompass nearly every category of aircraft. Attendees are also coming more informed, which has been evident in the questions they ask during the education sessions.
These sessions, which have ranged from international operations to a state of the industry, are more relevant to industry issues, Mularski said, rather than being more of a “lecture.”
The show had its largest footprint yet, with 160 exhibitors. “The show is building momentum,” Bolen said.