Thursday, February 11, 2010

Singapore Air Show: BAE, Saab To Skip

Defense News


Singapore Air Show: BAE, Saab To Skip

By Andrew Chuter, Wendell Minnick in Singapore contributed to this report.

LONDON - BAE Systems will be a no-show at next week's Singapore Airshow, the first time Europe's largest defense contractor has not exhibited at Asia's premier military and commercial aerospace event.

The British-based company will be the only one of the world's top 10 defense contractors missing from the show when it opens at the Changi Exhibition Centre on Feb 2.

The company will not be the only notable European absentee from the event. Swedish defense company Saab has also decided to miss the exhibition this year.

A spokeswoman for BAE said the company's focus in the Southeast Asian region had, for the moment, moved away from the air sector to potential naval and land programs.

"The air side in Singapore is not a big priority for us for the time being, but we remain extremely committed to looking at the tri-service market as a whole in the region," she said.

The company's presence will be limited to Southeast Asian-based executives, she said.

BAE was one of several major exhibitors who following the 2008 show complained to the exhibition organizers about the absence of military delegations on their stands, said an industry executive.

2008 was the first time Singapore had organized the show by itself after it split with longtime organizer Reed Exhibitions.

BAE's air sector market opportunities in Singapore have been limited since the Hawk jet was pitched out of a competition to buy a new trainer in 2008. Alenia Aermacchi's M-346 Master and the Korean Aerospace-built T-50 continue to battle for selection.

A Saab spokesman said the company was focusing more on national exhibitions in places like Thailand, India and Malaysia rather than attending the regional show in Singapore. The Swedish military aircraft, missiles and systems producer opted out of the Paris Air Show last year but says it will be at the Farnborough air show in the U.K. this summer.

The spokesman said the company might reconsider the position for Singapore 2012, by which time it will have Gripen fighters operational in the region following the signing of a deal to sell the aircraft to Thailand.

An official from the Singapore Airshow & Events (SAE) office denied there was a problem, stating there were about the same number of delegations and exhibitors this year as there were in 2008.

"We had 240 delegations representing different governments and business groups in 2008 and roughly the same number this year. This also includes the same number of exhibitors, at roughly 800 for both shows," said a SAE spokesperson.

The official did not respond to issues regarding complaints about access to delegations during the 2008 show.

"Regarding BAE Systems and Saab, they are valued partners of the Singapore Airshow and we were looking forward to see them again in this year's show. Both companies had committed to Singapore Airshow 2010 earlier. However, they have decided to pull out from this year's show late 2009," said the spokesperson.