Singapore has cancelled a major international aviation conference scheduled on the eve of next week’s Singapore Airshow because of the global health scare over China’s deadly coronavirus.
Organisers, however, said the main event, Asia’s biggest airshow, will proceed as scheduled from February 11-16 despite the pullout of several exhibitors, many of them from China.
US aircraft maker Boeing and European rival Airbus are the biggest players at the airshow, which was due to be preceded by the leadership conference featuring top airline, airport and other industry executives.
Among those who had been scheduled to speak at the conference were the senior executives of the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
“The Singapore Airshow Aviation Leadership Summit 2020, a component of the Airshow programme… will not take place this year,” a statement by organiser Experia Events said.
“This will allow many of the aviation leaders who are deeply involved in working out the responses to the novel coronavirus outbreak to focus on exigencies related to the ongoing situation.”
The aviation industry is one of the most affected by the virus outbreak after governments worldwide imposed restrictions on travel, including bans for those arriving from China.
The death toll in China stood at 425 Tuesday, exceeding the number of fatalities in the country from the SARS outbreak of 2002-03.
The World Health Organization has declared the crisis a global health emergency.
IATA said Asia-Pacific Airlines lost around $6.0 billion in revenues during SARS and are likely to be hit hard by the latest crisis.
The biennial Singapore Airshow attracted 54,000 trade visitors worldwide in 2018.
Experia Events said 10 exhibitors from mainland China, including airplane-maker Commercial Aviation Corporation of China (COMAC), have pulled out of the airshow.
Six other companies from Canada and the United States, Britain and Germany have also withdrawn.
The side conference would have involved 300 aviation industry leaders including government officials, civil aviation regulators, airport operators and airline executives.