Thursday, February 23, 2017

Don't shift India's aeroshow out of Bengaluru

Bengaluru: The Aero India show started in 1996 at the Yelahanka Air Force Station near Bengaluru. With the growth of Indian economy and India becoming one of the largest buyers of military hardware, and also the growth of civil aviation, Aero India slowly grew in stature and reputation and is now acknowledged as Asia's largest airshow for civil and military aircraft. Bengaluru, with its brand image and aided by salubrious climate and home to many aerospace establishments like HAL, BEL, Isro, NAL, IISc, has become a backend design hub for aerospace industries like Airbus, Bombardier, GE and other international companies. It was the right place to attract aerospace investors into India, both for software and manufacturing as well as civil and military aviation. In 2009, Aero India attracted 592 exhibitions for static display as well as many foreign firms displaying their military jets, including the IAF, in dazzling aerobatics.
Unfortunately, due to politics of rivalry and ego clash between the defence and civil aviation ministers and their ministries and shortsighted vision, a few years ago, the civil aviation ministry felt it must have its own airshow independent of Aero India conducted by the IAF under the aegis of the defence ministry and shifted the civil part to the Hyderabad International Airport and, eventually now to the Delhi International Airport, thereby taking away the sheen off Aero India built assiduously over the years and denting the economics of both Bengaluru and Delhi shows. Aircraft manufacturers, already fatigued with too many airshows worldwide, have now scaled back their participation from India as was evident in the just-concluded airshow. Apart from hundreds of major air shows in the US and Europe, there are prominent shows in Istanbul, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia and Australia. Airshows cost large sums of money and are also environmentally disastrous. Companies like Airbus and Boeing build air-conditioned chalets which are like luxurious resorts with plush carpets and furniture where business meetings are held and VIP customers are entertained over wine and gourmet food. All chalets built for airshows are destroyed at the end of the show.
23/02/17 GR Gopinath/Times of India