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11 December 2023

Debut Bahrain Airshow from today a sign of sector's revival

Gulf Air is key sponsor of the debut Bahrain International Airshow 2010. (SUPPLIED)

By Shweta Jain

The debut Bahrain International Airshow 2010, which opens today at the Sakhir Airbase, is yet another indication that the aviation industry is gradually coming out of the global slowdown.

The Middle East's second air show – after the Dubai Airshow, will see global aerospace manufacturers exhibiting 76 aircraft to delegates from 45 countries in a purpose-built airbase over the next three days.

However, the UAE airlines would be missing from the scene. The BIAS, organised by Farnborough International, would see no significant UAE participation.

When asked about their participation, all UAE airlines, including Emirates, Etihad Airways, and budget carriers flydubai and Air Arabia, confirmed to Emirates Business that they are not participating in the air show.

The Sharjah-based Air Arabia's spokesperson said the airline is "not physically participating" in BIAS 2010.

Flydubai, too, is keeping away from the air show, even as the Dubai-based budget carrier launched services to Bahrain – marking its 10th destination – in mid-December last year.

On the other hand, about 40 US and European aviation companies are expected to take part in the event, according to the organisers. Some of the industry giants participating in the air show include Lockheed Martin, Bell Helicopter Textron, Cessna Aircraft Company, Boeing, Airbus, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, and Sikorsky – in a push to gain a share in the region's growing defence and civil aviation market.

Meanwhile, the biennial industry-focused event is expected to provide a different experience from traditional air shows, with commercial participation restricted to just 40 companies from the civil, defence and business sectors of the global aerospace industry, according to the show's organisers.

The event's concept, designed to create a business-to-business environment, will include customer demonstration flights and flying displays by both the Jordanian and Saudi Air Force display teams.

There would be flying displays by the Royal Bahraini Air Force, the Royal Jordanian Falcons, the Saudi Hawks and fast jets including the US Navy F18, Sukhoi SU27 SKM and French Air Force Raphale. People would also be able to witness the first-ever public display of full-size UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles – also known as drones) in the world, according to the organisers.

"There is already an air of excitement and expectation about this event and Gulf Air is pleased to dedicate a fully-branded aircraft that will serve as the ambassador of this prestigious event the kingdom is hosting for the first time," Samer Majali, Chief Executive of Gulf Air (key sponsor of BIAS), recently said.

Gulf Air, the national carrier of Bahrain, currently feeds more than 70 per cent of Bahrain International Airport's traffic.

"Despite the world financial crisis we incurred no losses and the feasibility studies we carried out indicate that the event will continue to be successful," Bahrain's Undersecretary for Civil Aviation Affairs, Abdulrahm Mohamed Al Gaoud, was recently quoted as saying.

Interestingly, in an effort to mark the uniqueness of the air show, the BIAS will not have the traditional exhibition halls, but purpose-built individual chalets for each participating company located by the runway at Sakhir Airbase. "This will mean that participating companies will not only be able to display aircraft and products directly in front of their chalets, but will also be able to offer immediate flights to demonstrate their aircraft and services to buyers – something that is almost impossible at other air shows," said the event organisers.

A statement from organisers added: "The air show will be focused on enabling buyers and suppliers to meet with visiting delegations from around the Middle East. The event will cater for the civil, defence and business aviation markets."


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