Singapore loses Asian Aerospace bid

February 23, 2006
Singapore Democrats

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Associated Press
23 Feb 06

Singapore’s plans to launch a new air show in 2008 won’t undermine Asia’s largest aerospace exhibition, which is relocating from its longtime home in Singapore to Hong Kong, an industry official said Monday.

Asian Aerospace, billed as the biggest aerospace and defense technology exhibition in the region, kicks off Tuesday for the final time in Singapore, where it has been held biannually since 1981.

The event will move to the AsiaWorld-Expo complex, next to Hong Kong International Airport, on Sept. 3-6 next year because of “strong, logical commercial reasons,” said Mike Rusbridge, chairman of the show’s organizer, Reed Exhibitions.

“Certainly, the epicenter of the commercial aerospace industry, including its buying patterns, is moving north,” Rusbridge told a news conference in Singapore. “We need a world-class venue with world-class facilities, and we believe Hong Kong gives us that.”

The exhibition site layout and facilities in Singapore have made it difficult for Asian Aerospace to grow and adapt to the industry’s evolving requirements, Rusbridge said.

Singapore plans to hold its own Changi International Air Show starting early 2008. However, some aviation observers have voiced concerns about whether there is room for two large air shows in Asia.

“It has taken us 25 years to build Asian Aerospace into an international brand,” Rusbridge said, adding that the Changi show “will have something to prove before it represents really a threat” to Asian Aerospace.

Reed Exhibitions officials also reiterated that Hong Kong is the ideal gateway to China, the world’s fastest-growing airline passenger market with an annual growth rate of 12.5 percent.

Separately, Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd., a government-linked defense contractor and aircraft maintenance company, said it has not decided whether it will participate in the next Asian Aerospace.

Should ST Engineering participate it will be on a smaller scale, as the company is unlikely to display its “whole suite of technology” there, said Lim Beng See, its head of corporate communications.

The company will, however, support the Changi air show, Lim said.

ST Engineering has been the largest exhibitor at Asian Aerospace since 1981. At the current event, which runs through Sunday, the company accounts for 14 percent of the 175,000 square meters (1,883,700 sq. feet) of indoor exhibition space.

This year’s Asian Aerospace has more than 930 exhibitors from 43 countries. More than 27,000 visitors are expected.