SINGAPORE: Sixteen companies have pulled out from this year’s Singapore Airshow amid concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus, the organiser for the biennial event has confirmed.
Of these, 10 are from China, Experia Events said in response to queries from the media.
They include companies such as China’s largest aircraft maintenance supplier Ameco Beijing and state-owned aerospace manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China.
Experia Events said the Chinese firms’ withdrawal was due to precautionary measures by the authorities here to stop the spread of the coronavirus, which is believed to have originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, in the Hubei province.
These rules, which came into effect on Saturday (Feb 1), restrict new visitors of any nationality with recent travel history to mainland China from entering Singapore.
There were more than 20,600 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Tuesday, with more than 420 deaths. The World Health Organization has declared the crisis a global health emergency.
Singapore currently has 18 cases of the virus, all with recent travel history to Hubei province.
“Singapore’s recent travel restrictions and company policies on employee travel bans during this period is expected to reduce the number of exhibitors and visitors,” said an Experia Events spokesperson.
Among the other six companies which have withdrawn from the airshow are Canadian aerospace firm Bombardier, as well as United States-based business jet manufacturers Gulfstream and Textron Aviation.
Other major exhibitors, such as Airbus and ST Engineering, have confirmed they will proceed as planned for the Singapore Airshow.
It is "hard to say" whether more companies will pull out in the coming days, said Brendan Sobie, the founder of consulting firm Sobie Aviation.
"The cancellation of the 10 Chinese exhibitors was obviously unavoidable and the question at this point is: will more than six non-Chinese exhibitors pull out?" he said.
South Korean air force’s aerobatic team, the Black Eagles also confirmed its withdrawal from this year’s airshow.
“The decision was made as part of a government-wide effort to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus infection and as part of a preemptive measure to ensure the safety of our military personnel,” said the Black Eagles in a Facebook post on Monday.
A crowd favourite of the show’s public days, the Black Eagles performed in the country for the 2014 and 2016 editions of the Singapore Airshow.
The team’s scheduled appearance at the 2018 airshow was cancelled after its aircraft skidded on the runway and crashed at Changi Airport.
The Singapore Airshow Aviation Leadership Summit (SAALS) 2020, a major aviation summit to be held on the eve of the airshow, has also been cancelled.
The summit was expected to have been attended by 300 representatives from governments, regulators and the aviation industry.
“This will allow many of the aviation leaders who are deeply involved in working out the responses to the novel coronavirus outbreak to focus on exigencies related to the ongoing situation,” said Experia Events.
The organiser has no plans to cancel the airshow, which will run from Feb 11 to 16 at the Changi Exhibition Centre.
It will implement several precautionary measures to safeguard the well-being and safety of all attendees, which include enhanced cleaning and refuse management, providing attendees with hand sanitisers, as well as having a team of doctors and medics to attend to visitors who are feeling unwell.
Experia Events is also introducing temperature screening at the exhibition centre, as well as the Singapore Expo, where visitors can board shuttle buses to the airshow.
“In the coming week, we are focused on delivering the show while ensuring the overall safety of our attendees. During this period, we will continue to work with the relevant authorities and do our utmost to offer support to our exhibitors, partners and visitors who require assistance,” said managing director Leck Chet Lam.
Mr Sobie said the success of this year's show could depend on whether delegations from other Asian countries participate.
"The Singapore airshow is not only about the number of exhibitors and delegates, but about the number of customers and VIPs as well about the quality of meetings which take place on the sidelines," said Mr Sobie.
The biennial Singapore Airshow attracted 54,000 trade visitors worldwide in 2018.