Farnborough Air Show Plans Virtual Expo to Fill Paris Void

Organizers of Britain’s Farnborough International Airshow are planning a virtual expo later this year to fill the void left by a biennial event in Paris that was scrapped because of Covid-19.

The move will involve a repeat of the Farnborough Connect webinars that took place in 2020, when U.K. show was canceled because the coronavirus made a physical event impossible. This year’s online program will take place July 13-15, the organizers said in a statement.

Coordinators of the Paris Air Show canceled the 2021 edition in December amid uncertainty over whether it could take place. Continuing border curbs risked preventing the usual flood of attendees from the U.S., while the collapse in travel has greatly dimmed jet-order prospects, typically the highight of the expo. The French event usually alternates with Farnborough, which takes place at an airfield southwest of London.

Paris expo organizer Gifas confirmed that there are no plans for a virtual event.

“The tradition of having days reserved for the public is an important and integral part of the show, and these cannot happen online,” spokesman Christophe Robin said by phone.

Last year’s virtual Farnborough event saw more than 250 senior executives, academics and politicians participate, as well as 14,000 listeners from 97 countries, the organizers said. This year it will focus on sustainability, advanced manufacturing, defense and the commercial recovery.

“By creating a roster of events, such as FIA Connect, we broaden our global reach – something that will ensure a growth in international attendance at our biennial air show,” said Farnborough International Chief Executive Officer Gareth Rogers in the statement.

The next physical U.K. expo is slated to take place in July next year, followed by Paris in June 2023. The 2019 Paris show saw Airbus SE and Boeing Co. rack up almost $80 billion worth of aircraft deals.

The European company launched a long-range version of its single-aisle A321, with its U.S. rival hitting back with a surprise commitment from British Airways parent IAG SA for the 737 Max, a model then grounded after two fatal crashes.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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