The Farnborough International Air Show has sold out the floor space for its upcoming exhibition, and only one of the giant industry chalets remains unleased, a visibly relieved Shaun Ormrod told reporters May 22.
“We’ve got a good news story to tell, and, frankly, I’m a bit surprised,” given defense cuts and other austerity measures in the U.K. and elsewhere, said the CEO of Farnborough International Ltd., whose 2012 show will run July 9-15 at the storied airfield outside London.
Two years ago, the giant exhibition opened and closed under the cloud of a two-year-old financial crisis and broadly hinted cuts to the U.K. defense budget. This time around, the defense cuts are real and the euro zone is still hurting, but the global civil aerospace market is healthy enough to stabilize exhibitors’ demand for floor space.
The emphasis is on “global,” especially in more southerly markets, Ormrod said. Even if European sales have slackened, the thirst has intensified for mid- and widebody airliners in Brazil, India, Singapore, and elsewhere, he said.
Still, the show is not entirely immune to ill winds. Ormrod said the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will not be appearing despite the high hopes of many in industry and partner governments.
U.S. giant Northrop Grumman will also be sitting out this year’s show. The company announced the decision last October, ascribing it to “affordability and cost reduction goals.”
Ormrod called Northrop’s absence unsurprising in the context of the U.S. and U.K. budget situations.
“From time to time, major players will change their strategy, and that will reduce their profile at major events,” he said, adding that he hoped the American company would return in 2014.
The U.S. pavilion remains the largest at the show, but Russia will move into second place with a display that will feature the international debut of the Yak-130 light attack/trainer jet, Ormrod said.
The exhibition space devoted to unmanned systems is growing as well; it will be 50 percent larger this show than last.
There will also be new space devoted solely to space and to security products.