This year’s edition of the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) show has been “deferred” to 2022 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the exhibition organisers have announced.
The exhibition, long seen as Africa’s premier aerospace and defence event, was set down for 16 to 20 September at Air Force Base Waterkloof in Centurion. The traditional weekend airshow was set to include large parts of the SA Air Force (SAAF) inventory as part of the commemoration of the force’s centenary.
AAD organisers said on 30 June the exhibition has been deferred to 21 to 25 September 2022 “as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic”. The decision was made after consultations with the Department of Defence (DoD) and key stakeholders.
The delay decision follows, among others, close monitoring of the pandemic’s global fallout as well as its prevalence in South Africa.
The exhibition organisers list five factors influencing the delay decision. They are an absolute need to ensure the battle against the COVID-19 virus is won and further safeguard human lives; the severity the pandemic imposes on the global aviation and defence exhibition sector; a Department of Defence (DoD) decision to put a hold on all foreign activities and events, including in- and outbound missions; and South African borders remaining closed with no travelling anticipated by September.
“The announcement comes at a time when South Africa is under level three lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with restrictions including prohibition of public gatherings, a trend seen around the world during lockdowns”, the organisers said.
AAD exhibition director Leona Redelinghuys is quoted as saying: “We are aware the deferment of AAD 2020 is an additional setback to the international defence and aerospace industries and the South African defence industry in particular, given that AAD is identified and diarised as a platform to showcase the latest advances and technological innovations the world’s best in aviation and defence offer. As everyone’s health, safety and security come first we can and will only proceed giving the best of AAD when it is absolutely safe to do so. We are already working and planning on delivering an enhanced AAD in 2022”.
Apart from pointing out the exhibition organisers will “engage” with exhibitors who confirmed attendance at the now-off 2020 AAD on “options available”, no mention is made of refunding deposits or other advance payments.
The postponement of AAD 2020 follows international trends as the coronavirus pandemic cancels or postpones most major aerospace and defence events for this year. Some events have gone digital in response. As an example, the Farnborough International Air Show due to take place between 20 and 24 July in the United Kingdom was cancelled and replaced by FIA Connect, a series of free to attend digital aerospace events on the same dates as the air show would have.
Germany’s ILA Berlin Air Show (13-17 May) was cancelled and is instead having a series of webinars, online presentations, matchmaking events and discussions from 13 May to 31 July. The organisers claim it was the first aerospace exhibition to become a digital event.
Likewise, France’s Eurosatory defence show, scheduled for June, will instead have a series of online business meetings on 14 and 15 September. Some of the companies that would have attended, including Arquus and Rheinmetall, have created online digital replicas of their stands and even launched new products using their digital platforms.
Elsewhere in Africa, Egypt still plans to physically host its defence exhibition between 7 and 10 December. This will be the second edition of the Egypt Defence Expo (Edex).