While not denying some members of the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) 2014 management team have, or are leaving, exhibition organisers said the success of the event will not be affected.
In an effort to clear up confusion, rumours and speculation around the September 17 to 21 event at AFB Waterkloof, defenceWeb contacted AMD (SA Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industries Association) to obtain clarity on South Africa’s and Africa’s premier defence and security exhibition. This because AMD is the host of this year’s event which rotates between it, the Department of Defence, Armscor and the Civil Aviation Association of SA. Questions addressed to its director Simphiwe Hamilton were responded by e-mail, using the [email protected] address. No name was given.
The response did not supply any direct answers on either the resignation of exhibition director, Leona Redelinghuys, or that of marketing and public relations manager, Vhongani Shumba. Her post has and is still being advertised on the AMD website.
A number of people in both the aviation and defence sectors told defenceWeb they were resigning and expressed concern about, not so much this year’s event, but future AADs.
“While the 2014 exhibition will happen one can only wonder how successful it will be as a platform to market the 2016 and 2018 events to particularly international exhibitors,” an Armscor retiree who was closely involved with DEXSA ( Defence Exhibition of SA), AAD’s forerunner as well as earlier iterations of AAD, said.
This view was echoed by the editor of a leading South African aviation publication while a retired SA Air Force officer said it would be “a disaster” if the exhibition director left with AAD just over four months away.
“Arrangements for AAD 2014 are on track,” the e-mail read. “As with any premier event there are challenges but these are being addressed by the organisers. This year’s AAD also coincides with South Africa celebrating 20 years of democracy and with the full support of government”.
More than 95% of exhibition space at AFB Waterkloof in Centurion has been booked and all 37 the hospitality chalets on the flight line have also been reserved. As of this week 35 civilian aircraft have been confirmed as static displays with the majority of them also set to do demonstration flights.
Ten national pavilions have also been confirmed for AAD 2014 with Argentina and the Czech Republic as first-timers. They join India, Turkey, Germany, the United States, China, the United Kingdom and Russia as countries with national representation at AAD which opens its gates to trade visitors on September 17. The last trade day is September 19 followed by the open days, including an airshow on the weekend of September 20 and 21.