The Singapore Air Show will begin next week in the wake of a dramatic fall in air travel in the region. The biennial event, operating since 2008, last took place before the pandemic. The region has experienced an astounding 93% drop in international passenger travel.

Officials hope the event will offer opportunities for senior executives to have invaluable in-person meetings to discuss lucrative deals with vital commercial clients. Boeing and Airbus are among the companies expecting to send delegations.

Vast drop in the number of exhibitors

The event’s schedule has in the past included both static displays of aircraft and flying displays, plus opportunities to engage with experts and explore programmes operating within the industry. Whilst this year’s event promises to be no different, the number of exhibitions has dropped dramatically.

Crucially, there are only expected to be about a third of the number of exhibitors as at 2020’s show, with the difficulties experienced by airlines being reflected on the event’s organisers. Restrictions for attendees include segregated meals, daily testing, hotel isolation if they test positive and the requirement to wear a mask at all times.

The event has historically led to far fewer orders than its rivals in Dubai and Europe; in a region accounting for 35% of the world’s commercial fleet, only 4% of orders are typically made in Singapore, according to Jeffries brokerage.

Airbus A350 Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines is one carrier opting to bolster their freight capabilities | © Andrea Ongaro / Travel Radar

The overall condition of the market has drawn some airlines to bolster their freighting capabilities, with Singapore Airlines‘ recent deal with Airbus for seven freighters explicitly involving a reduction of their existing order for passenger planes.

Omicron concerns easing?

Asia’s slow recovery from the pandemic is showing signs of picking up, and in recent weeks countries including the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand have all eased restrictions for vaccinated tourists. Concerns regarding the Omicron variant also show signs of easing across the region.

Across the Asia-Pacific, in an industry now heavily reliant on freight and government support, airlines will be hoping that the show’s display of confidence will spread far and wide.

Will the Singapore Air Show inspire confidence across the region? Or amount to little more than a drop in the ocean? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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