With many of the world’s biggest aerospace and defence trade shows being cancelled or postponed this year, attention has turned to the eleventh edition of the biennial Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition, scheduled to take place at Air Force Base Waterkloof between 16 and 20 September.
Government studies have suggested that the coronavirus pandemic may peak in South Africa between August and September, potentially impacting Africa’s biggest aerospace and defence show.
The AAD organisers are nevertheless planning to host the exhibition as scheduled, but have cautioned that the South African government will have final say. The team is closely monitoring updates as communicated by the World Health Organisation and taking their lead from the South African National Department of Health regarding the Coronavirus.
Described as the “most progressive event yet,” the organisers are hoping they will still be able to welcome visitors to Waterkloof.
International events cancelled
Some of the biggest exhibitions have been cancelled or postponed internationally, and this includes the Berlin Air Show (13-17 May), European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (26-28 May) and Farnborough Air Show (20-24 July). However, some events scheduled for later in the year such as Defence Services Asia (24-27 August) and the Egypt Defence Expo (7-10 December) are still on track, giving some hope to AAD.
Around half of exhibition space for AAD 2020 has been booked, with the exhibition hoping to attract more than 400 exhibitors from at least 35 countries and over 10 000 visitors a day. The 2018 edition attracted 32 000 trade visitors, 486 exhibitors from 40 countries and had 68 aircraft on display. The two-day air show was witnessed by 55 000 visitors.
AAD is not just a showcase for the local aerospace and defence industry but also an important economic stimulus for South Africa, through direct investment and future deals lined up during the three trade days of the exhibition.
As the South African Air Force celebrates its centenary this year and 25 years of a democratic air force, many participants were looking forward to an exceptionally good air show on 19 and 20 September. Even if this does not go ahead, there is the possibility that AAD could be moved to 2021.