Singapore kicks off depleted air show amid coronavirus clampdown

(Reuters) – Organisers scrambled on Sunday to shore up the Singapore Airshow, which is going ahead under a cloud of health and economic concerns after dozens of exhibitors pulled out of Asia’s largest aerospace gathering due to coronavirus fears.

Few deals are expected at the biennial event, where health warnings have triggered new safety measures and cast a shadow over airline profits and demand for airplanes.

After years in which the airline industry has become used to weathering external shocks from epidemics to security threats, one of the industry’s leading showcases has itself been thrust into the spotlight as the number of deaths in mainland China, where the virus first erupted, rose above 800.

More than 70 exhibitors have pulled out of the Feb. 11-16 show, usually a magnet for planemakers, suppliers and arms buyers due to strong demand for civil jetliners coupled with weapons demand fed by regional power rivalries.

“Based on our assessment of the situation today…we have decided to proceed with the trade and public days,” said Tan Kong Hwee, assistant managing director of Singapore’s Economic Development Board.

Organisers advised trade visitors to avoid shaking hands and to choose alternative forms of greeting such as bowing or waving hands. The number of public tickets available will be halved.

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