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Singapore Airshow 2020 sees smaller crowd because of Covid-19, but visitors unfazed by virus threat

SINGAPORE — It was a smaller crowd compared to previous editions of the Singapore Airshow, with the organisers having sold fewer tickets in light of the Covid-19 situation.

Singapore Airshow 2020 sees smaller crowd because of Covid-19, but visitors unfazed by virus threat

J-10 fighter planes from China's People's Liberation Army Air Force perform during the Singapore Airshow 2020 at Changi Exhibition Centre on Feb 16, 2020.

SINGAPORE — It was a smaller crowd compared to previous editions of the Singapore Airshow, with the organisers having sold fewer tickets in light of the Covid-19 situation.

But that did not stop Mr M K Wong from making his first trip to the event on Sunday (Feb 16).

“The safest place to be is outdoors, in the hot sun,” the 64-year-old lecturer and hobbyist photographer said, referencing comments made by several medical experts that the virus cannot thrive in the heat.

“The worst place you will want to be in right now is in an air-conditioned building.”

Just over 20,000 visitors attended the public segment of this year’s edition of the biennial Singapore Airshow over the weekend, a quarter of the 2018 edition that saw more than 80,000 people attending over the same period.

This is in part due to a decision made by the organisers, Experia Events, in light of the virus outbreak.

As one of its precautionary measures to ensure well-being and safety of all attendees, the organisers said on Sunday that they had to scale down sale of public day tickets by more than half.

While the smaller crowd was a visual reminder of the health threat that Singapore faces, many attendees such as Mr Wong told TODAY they were largely unbothered by it.

Many of those who attended the airshow were unbothered by the virus situation that had kept other people away. Photo: Nuria Ling/TODAY

For Australian tourist Mark Rolski, it was because of his confidence in Singapore’s healthcare system which he felt was better than his own country’s.

“The standard (in Singapore) is very high… so that’s why I wasn’t worried about coming here at all,” said Mr Rolski, who had arranged his stopover in Singapore to coincide with the airshow.

Others such as Ms Cheryl Lee, who was told by friends to expect to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with others, relished the unexpected ease of movement.

“It’s not like no-one showed up, but it’s also great that I don’t have to jostle with the crowd,” said the 33-year-old, who was attending the event for the first time. “I get a good view of the aircraft on display and chat with the pilots about it.”

During the five hours that TODAY spent at the airshow on Sunday, it witnessed many young families and tourists walking around the exhibition area with ease.

Seats under the outdoor tents were easily available for anyone seeking a reprieve from the heat, or looking for a place to have a meal.

Aside from the smaller crowd, 26-year-old engineer Lim Xiao Ming said what was noticeably different was that the public were no longer allowed to climb into the cockpits of the aircraft on display at the static portion of the airshow.

In previous years there were long queues for such photo opportunities, said Mr Lim, who was returning to the airshow for the third time.

He also expressed disappointment that the virus had forced some participants to back out from what has been billed as the largest airshow in Asia.

Both Mr Lim and 18-year-old student Demiral Mohamed Raffe told TODAY that they bought tickets to the airshow specifically to watch South Korea’s Black Knights perform, before the aerobatics team announced its decision to pull out.

Aside from the team, TODAY previously reported that over 70 exhibitors withdrew from the six-day long aerospace and defence event, which started on Feb 11.

Mr Lim said he was unimpressed by the aerial displays from the USAF and United States Marine Corps (USMC). During the morning, the American pilots had executed a series of standard fly-bys and hovering manoeuvres in their respective F-22 and F-35B fighter jets.

“There weren’t any high-speed manoeuvres,” said Mr Lim, who was attending the airshow for the third time.

China's aerobatics team displayed their flying prowess and agility through a series of high-speed and risky manoeuvres. Photo: Nuria Ling/TODAY

For Mr Demiral, one highlight was China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force aerobatics team, who were flying for the first time at the airshow.

A team of six pilots wowed the crowd as they displayed their flying prowess and agility through a series of high-speed and risky manoeuvres to the accompaniment of rousing parade music.

As they looped, circled and spiralled in the skies, streams of rainbow-hued smoke were left in their wake.

“These planes are quite something to be reckoned with,” mused Mr Wong of China’s J-10 fighter jets.

“I think China has to show its progress to the world and they used Singapore as a good stage as they knew a lot of people would be here. It’s just unfortunate… the coronavirus has deterred so many people from coming.”

“But what can we do about it? It (the virus) is here. We can’t hide ourselves in a cave. Just go out and enjoy life!” quipped Mr Wong.

Related topics

Singapore Airshow 2020 aviation Wuhan virus coronavirus Covid-19

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