This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
One day after the Helicopter Association International (HAI) reaffirmed its commitment to hold its annual in-person Heli-Expo trade show, four leading industry OEMs—Airbus, Bell, Robinson Helicopter, and Sikorsky—have decided to cancel their exhibits. AIN has learned that other large helicopter companies, including Metro Aviation, will also pass on the show.
An HAI spokesman said the flurry of cancellations on Friday was not unanticipated as it was the last day to do so and receive a full refund. He told AIN that an updated exhibitor list would be available by January 26, but that approximately 300 exhibitors remained. Companies that canceled said their decisions were driven by continuing concerns over the Covid-19 pandemic. As of Friday, more than 93 million related cases and two million deaths had been reported worldwide.
Typical sentiment from canceling exhibitors was voiced by Bell, which issued a statement that it “has made the difficult decision to not exhibit at Helicopter Association International’s annual Heli-Expo. This decision was made out of an abundance of caution, and while we respect the significant safety measures HAI and the city of New Orleans are taking, Bell’s top priority remains the well-being of our employees and customers. While Bell will miss the opportunity to showcase our latest commercial technology and meet in person, we look forward to participating in some virtual capacity, as well as engage in thought leadership opportunities the event has always provided. Bell thanks HAI for their ongoing support to the industry and navigating the challenges in 2020 and this year.”
Over the weekend, HAI once again reiterated that it still plans to hold Heli-Expo in person this March, despite the cancellations by several anchor exhibitors.