Singapore Airshow 2020: One company sees record sales, but for some it’s a week of cancelled meetings

Visitors to the Singapore Airshow exhibition hall on February 13. — TODAY pic
Visitors to the Singapore Airshow exhibition hall on February 13. — TODAY pic

SINGAPORE, Feb 15 — Following the pullout of big name companies at this year’s Singapore Airshow, reviews by exhibitors at the event were mixed, with one firm posting record sales and several others expressing disappointment with the lower turnout.

Billed as Asia’s largest aerospace and defence event, the biennial show which runs from Feb 11 to this Sunday at the Changi Exhibition Centre was hit by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Over 70 exhibitors of the original 1,000 companies or so withdrew from the show in its lead-up, including big names such as aerospace company Lockheed-Martin and aircraft manufacturer De Havilland.

The trade segment of the show, which runs for the first four days, concluded yesterday.

No-show by clients for some exhibitors

Several exhibitors TODAY spoke to on Thursday said that they had seen fewer meetings with clients as well as lower attendance at their booths, compared with previous iterations of the show.

Magellan Aviation Group, which buys and sells aircraft parts, initially had up to nine meetings scheduled every day during the show but most of these were cancelled, said Mohammad Ali Dawood, its senior sales and marketing director for Asia Pacific.

He added that the company did not plan to stay for the final day of the trade show.

“We had one meeting (with a client) on the first day and two more on the second day. Everybody else has cancelled for today and tomorrow,” Ali, who has attended Singapore Airshow since it started, said on Thursday.

Similarly, one Chinese company that supplies aviation material had scheduled 15 meetings but only two materialised, said its business development manager.

Footfall at the company’s booth had also fallen compared to the last time it had participated at the airshow in 2016, said the manager, who declined to be named. While the company had 400 visitors three days into the air show in 2016, only 100 people had visited the booth so far this year, he said.

Referring to the crowd present on Thursday afternoon, he said: “The last air show that we participated in (in 2016) had more people on the last day. You can see exhibitors walking about the aisles today and that’s not a good sign.”

An empty booth at the Singapore Airshow on Feb 13. Photo: Raj Nadarajan/TODAY

Organisers of the air show, Experia Events, said on Friday that close to 30,000 trade attendees from over 110 countries had come for the event. More than 930 companies had also participated in this year’s show.

The 2018 air show saw 54,000 trade visitors from 147 countries, with more than 1,000 companies participating.

Muthuraman AR, the sales director of Turbo India, which manufactures aircraft connectors, said that his company does not plan to return for the next air show. In addition to the “high cost” of setting up a booth at the show — his 12sqm booth costs approximately S$20,400 (RM60,705) — he said he was uncertain if those that skipped this year’s air show will return for the next one in 2022.

Record sales for JTC

However, it was not all bleak, with JTC Corporation, for instance, posting a record S$500 million in investments during the air show.

In an email to TODAY, Ms Glory Wee, the director of the aerospace, marine and urban solutions cluster at JTC Corporation, said that the statutory board had “good conversations with customers and prospects” at this year’s air show.

“The investments are proceeding as planned and the agreements that JTC signed this week reflect the underlying confidence that leading aerospace companies have in Singapore and our people,” said Ms Wee.

Lim Tse Yong, the director of capital goods at the Economic Development Board (EDB), said that despite the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on Singapore Airshow this year, it remains an important platform to engage the industry.

Chew Men Leong, chief marketing officer of Singapore’s defence technology firm ST Engineering, said that while this year’s air show had reduced participation, the company still met many of its overseas guests and held meetings.

MORE THAN TWO-THIRDS OF EXHIBITORS TO RETURN FOR NEXT AIR SHOW

Experia Events said that more than two-thirds of exhibitors, including giants like Airbus and Boeing, have committed to participating in the next edition in 2022. In the last iteration of the show, over 70 per cent of exhibitors committed to returning.

Leck Chet Lam, the managing director of Experia Events, said that despite concerns about Covid-19, the exhibitors’ commitment and presence at Singapore Airshow 2020 signify confidence in Asia’s aviation industry, as well as the air show’s relevance in fostering growth.

“We are encouraged by the show of solidarity from our exhibitors and look forward to deepening collaborations and partnerships built during the past four days, and returning stronger with new ideas and concepts to transform Asia’s aviation industry,” said Leck. — TODAY

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