Asian aviation industry ready for take-off

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 September, 2009, 12:00am

The Asian Aerospace Expo and Congress opens for the second time in Hong Kong today. Taking place at AsiaWorld-Expo, the three-day event will bring together the world's leading players in the aviation industry.

The biennial event moved from Singapore to Hong Kong in 2007 and was a great success. This year the event looks certain to trump the last, with more than 10,500 pre-registered visitors.

Asia is set to be one of the major growth areas for the aviation industry and, as the gateway to the mainland, Hong Kong is seen as the perfect venue for the event.

'With Asia's economies dramatically rebounding from the effects of the global recession, the region is very firmly back on track to play a highly influential role in the development of the global air transport industry,' said Richard Thiele, head of global sales for aerospace and aviation at Reed Exhibitions, organisers of the event.

'For the 2007 show, we had about 4,500 pre-registered visitors, so it is a nice step up from then.'

Thiele said that dynamic Asian markets, including the mainland, India, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam, offered the most exciting opportunities for the industry in the world. 'Hong Kong, as part of China and situated at the very heart of Asia, is without doubt the right place to hold Asian Aerospace since it attracts the right people from east and west and offers them the right value with its three-day programme of business-to-business activity only.'

A major focus of the expo will be on the rapidly growing aviation industry on the mainland, with at least 2,000 to 3,000 visitors expected to be from there. There will be more than 350 companies from 28 countries exhibiting at the event.

Business aviation will form a major part of the expo, with 16 business jets taking pride of place at the static display area of the show at Hong Kong International Airport. Among these will be the Bombardier Global XRS and the Dassault Falcon 7X, which will be on display in Asia for the first time. There will also be aircraft from Airbus, Hawker Beechcraft, Embraer, Gulfstream and Piaggio.

The congress will be taking place alongside the main expo, focusing on air transport trends, future engine and green technologies, and the outlook for infrastructure.

Guest speakers will include Tony Tyler, chief executive of Cathay Pacific and chairman of the board of governors of the International Air Transport Association; Andrew Herdman, director general of the Association of Asia-Pacific Airlines; and a number of leaders from the mainland's air transport industry.

More than 400 delegates will take part in a series of discussions. Business delegations from across the region will also be present.

'We talk a lot about the industry in China, but alongside this are many other countries in the region that will play important roles in the future of the air transport industry,' said Thiele. 'When we look at some of the delegations coming, such as the ministry of transport from Laos and delegations from Australia, Vietnam, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore and elsewhere, we can see how important the event is for everybody in the region.'

A conference programme will run simultaneously to the expo. The programme will focus on six subjects: aircraft interiors, air finance, business aviation, aviation training, air freight and the main congress.

'It's a major thing to be able to attach such a big conference programme to a major show,' Thiele said. 'In all, there will be more than 100 speakers involved.'

Another special aspect of Asian Aerospace is the two directors' luncheons, where organisers will network senior management from major exhibitors such as Lufthansa, EADS and Boeing.

'We will also have a selection of themed lunches that will bring together people involved in the industry at the more tactical level, such as in maintenance areas,' Thiele explained.

The next two years are expected to bring rapid developments in the air transport industry, especially as the industry looks towards a brighter future when economies across the globe pull out of the recession.

Major developments will include two new players, the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China and Bombardier, entering the commercial aviation scene. Alongside this, relaxed regulations, especially on the mainland, will play a major role in developing both the commercial and business travel sectors in the region.

'The investment that mainland China is putting into regional aviation development will be huge, and as such Hong Kong will once again be the perfect venue for the next Asian Aerospace Expo and Congress in 2011,' Thiele said. 'We strongly feel that it is the perfect location for the event and have already signed up with AsiaWorld-Expo to host the event again.'