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Paris Air Show cancellation shakes industry, as Moscow bucks the trend

written by Hannah Dowling | December 16, 2020

The Airbus chalet at the 2019 Paris Air Show. (Airbus)

Last week it was announced that the Paris Air Show, initially scheduled for June 2021, has been cancelled in light of COVID-19 concerns.

The announcement came more or less as a shock in light of weeks of positive news, notably including the first COVID-19 vaccines having been approved for widespread distribution.

However it appears the decision to cancel Paris has had ramifications across the globe, as the industry is reminded that despite recent optimism, the global pandemic is still far from over.

Established in 1909, the Paris Air Show is the largest air show and aerospace industry exhibition in the world. 

It runs every two years, and was scheduled to commence at Le Bourget on June 21 2021. This is the first time the show has been cancelled since World War Two.

The event’s organisers said that the decision to cancel the air show was “inevitable” in light of the “international health crisis” coupled with the “large number of visitors that this popular show attracts”.

They added: “This reasonable decision was agreed upon unanimously by the Paris Air Show Board members in the context of a crisis that has had an unprecedented impact on the aerospace industry.”

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Just days later, the Middle East Business Aviation Association announced its MEBAA Show had been rescheduled for a second time, now due to take place in December 2022.

The Dubai-based convention was originally scheduled to take place in December 2020, before it was rescheduled to February 2021. It has now been pushed back over 18 months.

MEBAA founder and executive chairman Ali Alnaqbi says the association is cancelling the event with “deep regret”.

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“Due to concerns related to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and international travel restrictions imposed across numerous countries around the world, we believe this tough decision is in the best interests of health and safety of exhibitors, visitors, contractors and staff,” he said.

The above decisions left some wondering if the International Olympic Committee will also heed to COVID concerns, after already postponing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, now scheduled for July 2021.

However, it seems not all event organisers are accepting the same fate as Paris.

Russia’s MAKS-2021 Moscow Airshow is reportedly forging ahead with its event, due to be held just a month after Paris was scheduled, in July 2021.

Event organiser Aviasalon has said that participant registration, which commenced in October, is proceeding at a “rapid pace”, and foreign attendees have also made their interest known.

Within two months of exhibitor registration opening over 100 applications had been received, the organiser said.

Both the Farnborough 2020 and Paris 2021 air shows have been abandoned as a result of uncertainty over the aviation industry and the logistical issues involved in working around pandemic-related restrictions.

This means the MAKS could be the largest aerospace convention seen since the beginning of the global pandemic that shook the industry to its core.

Aviasalon general director Alexander Levin says much of the organising work for the event has taken place online, which has made certain processes more efficient. 

“MAKS promises to be the most significant aerospace event in the 2021 exhibition calendar,” he added, given the cancellation of the Paris show.

“The situation in the Russian market is different from what we see in North America or the European Union. After the lockdown of the second quarter of 2020, domestic airlines were able to significantly restore traffic volumes.

“Measures of state support provided by Russian manufacturers of civil aviation equipment make it possible to maintain demand for our aircraft and helicopters at a sufficiently high level.”

Meanwhile, US-based Dayton Air Show is also intending to move ahead with its scheduled event, due to take place in Dayton, Ohio on July 10 and 11, 2021, after cancelling its summer 2020 show.

The jury appears to be still out on the November 2021 Dubai Air Show, however industry leaders and organisers appear optimistic that recent vaccine news could see the event go off without a hitch.

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