HK to be new home of Asia's biggest air show

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2006, 12:00am

Hong Kong has brushed aside stiff regional competition to win Asia's biggest air show, to be held every two years from September 2007.

The four-day event could potentially contribute $2 billion to the economy every two years.

Air show organiser Reed Exhibitions yesterday announced it had chosen Hong Kong over Shanghai and Bangkok to host the show, which has been held in Singapore for the past 25 years.

The event, which saw more than 800 exhibitors generate S$5.6 billion ($26.7 billion) in deals the last time it was held, will anchor Chek Lap Kok's new $2.35 billion Asia World-Expo centre, a facility that played a strong role in the successful bid, according to an executive involved in the tender process.

'Old air show road warriors used to spending three to four hours a day in traffic jams entering or escaping the Farnborough or Paris air shows will be pleasantly surprised by the Airport Express train taking you to the door of your exhibition hall in 25 minutes from downtown,' said Martin Craigs, president of the Asia Aerospace Forum, an independent industry lobbying group.

Organisers continue to court Zhuhai about holding the military and space-related parts of the shows in tandem with the commercial element in Hong Kong.

But it is understood next year's version will have only a limited, 'symbolic' airborne component of the type that usually attracts aviation enthusiasts from outside the industry.

The last event in 2004 attracted 48,000 visitors for the two days open to the public and 27,000 industry representatives.

A lack of commitment in Singapore to build a quasi-dedicated facility for the show was partly responsible for Reed's decision to seek a new home. The mainland's rise to become the biggest single marketplace for aircraft sales last year also played a role.

The show will run from September 3 to 6 next year and Reed has booked the 70,000-square-metre exhibition centre for 10 days.

Hong Kong will still have to compete, however, with an air show in Singapore, which has elected to continue to put on a spectacle of its own despite the withdrawal of Reed and its 'Asian Aerospace' brand.

Hong Kong's version will be called the Asian Aerospace International Expo and Congress, emphasising the industry networking opportunities the event will bring to the region.