Singapore Airshow still on despite exhibitor pull-outs over Coronavirus threat

Leck Chet Lam
Leck Chet Lam, CEO of Experia Events during the opening media conference on Sunday 9 February. (JR Ng)

The organisers of the Singapore Airshow (11-16 February), Experia Events, confirmed during a media briefing at the Changi Expo Centre that the event will still open on Tuesday 11 February despite enduring concerns over the spreading coronavirus.

Leck Chet Lam, managing director of Experia Events, confirmed that 70 exhibitors had decided not to participate but that this represented only eight percent of the 930 that had initially confirmed their attendance.

Withdrawal of Defence Giants

One of the major blows was the decision by the United States government to reduce the size of its delegation at the show, and the withdrawal of defence giants Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, who followed an earlier withdrawal by Textron and several US business jet manufacturers. A late cancellation on Monday was announced by Leonardo.


There has been a slight reduction in the number of static aircraft which now stands at 45 planes. Good news for the organisers comes in the shape of flying displays by two of Lockheed Martin’s blue ribband aircraft, a US Marine Corps Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II and a US Pacific Air Force F-22 Raptor.

Displays were provided by US Air Force F-22 Raptor (see this image) and US Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II jets, as well as by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force Ba Yi display team.


Somewhat controversially is the attendance of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) display team and the secrecy over its late arrival. As no Chinese companies have been allowed to exhibit – 12 had been confirmed – and no overseas Chinese visitors to the show are expected, the ‘green light’ given to the PLAAF is being seen locally as something of a rare public relations success for China.

Public days

The public days are still going ahead, although at the media conference the organisers were looking at limiting numbers to around half of those expected, with compensation being considered for those with tickets who may not gain entry. The final decision on whether the public will be allowed in on the final days of the show will be dictated largely by the Singaporean Government guidelines, explained Leck Chet Lam.

Singapore Airshow 2020 success?

The organisers had hoped that Singapore Airshow 2020 would largely focus on four key pillars: strategic conversations, the airshow, innovation, and talent pipeline. However, the commitment of potential visitors to attend the event is likely to dictate the success or otherwise of these concepts – which would have been good visitor draws under normal circumstances.

by Andrew Drwiega