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Safety first as the show goes on

Posted 12 July 2021 · Add Comment

Optimism underpins the planning for the co-located Aircraft Interiors and MRO Middle East exhibitions, with quality, not quantity, the order of the day.

Royal backing: HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, studies a model of Mohammed Bin Rashid Aerospace Hub at the 2020 show. Picture: Aviation Week/Tarsus.

Organisers of the MRO Middle East and Aircraft Interiors Middle East (AIME) exhibitions are hopeful that their gamble in pushing the co-located annual events back just three months from their normal February/March slot will pay off. Sadly, the co-located aircraft interiors event, AIME, will not be happening this year, although it will be back in 2022. 

With Covid-19 restrictions still in place all over the world, it stands to reason foreign exhibitor and visitor numbers at the event on June 15-16 will be down on pre-pandemic shows.

However, if anyone needs reassurance before boarding a plane to Dubai, they need only consider the success of IDEX, the international defence exhibition held in neighbouring Abu Dhabi in February, where a strict testing regime and social distancing helped keep attendees safe.

Dubai authorities are no less rigorous, and promise as safe an environment as possible for the face-to-face interactions so important for this community, especially when preparing for the recovery in MRO and the wider aftermarket expected in the next 3-4 years.

The event, at the Dubai World Trade Centre, will adhere strictly to measures laid down by the local authorities, which include now-familiar aspects of social distancing and face covering.

Visitors can expect to meet exhibitors from key domestic and international companies, including IAI Aviation Group, the first Israeli participant, whose attendance was made possible by the Abraham Accords peace agreement.

Lydia Janow, managing director for the organiser, Aviation Week Network, said: "Exploring innovation initiatives, and the digital strategies put in place by airlines and MROs for their recovery, will be a key part of the event this year."

New for 2021 is the Go Live! Theatre and its enhanced programme of presentations, keynote addresses and panel discussions, in place of the one-day conference normally held the day before the exhibition opens. Among speakers planning to take part is Nicole Noack, managing director of the Independent Aircraft Modifier Alliance (IAMA). She spoke for many when she said exhibitions and conferences “are essential to our industry” for the personal connections and insights the visitors gain into the actual and upcoming challenges across the industry.

For IAMA, she said, live meetings are also important for sharing the knowledge and educational material with the industry for which it has been developed.

Prominent among exhibitors will be Sanad Aerotech, Mohammed bin Rashid Aerospace Hub, Etihad Airways Engineering, Joramco, Liebherr-Aerospace and Safari Aviation.

Fraser Currie, chief commercial officer of Joramco, said the “uncharted waters” of the last 12 months had been “challenging” for the aftermarket sector. Thanks to effective business continuity and crisis management planning, the Amman-based MRO quickly found its feet “in what has commonly been referred to as ‘the new norm’.”

Looking forward to MRO Middle East, he added: “We have all become expert at video conferencing, but nothing can replace a face-to-face interaction when you can look someone in the eye, shake their hand, and form a bond of trust through personal interaction.”

Also returning are Saudia Aerospace and Engineering Industries (SAEI), and Air Works, India’s largest independent MRO.

The official French delegation will be missing this year, although a small number of French companies are expected to exhibit independently.

A spokesman for regular sponsor, Heico, said the company had simply decided not to exhibit at any events until 2022, although Jim O’Sullivan, vice-president sales & business development, EMEA, did not rule out attending the show.

Of the same mind were representatives of Magnetic MRO and EngineStands24.

One regular exhibitor that will be at this year’s show is MTU Maintenance. The company formally opened its Dubai office on the fringes of last year’s exhibition in what has proved to be an astute move.

Sami Ben Kraiem, vice-president for marketing and sales in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, said he expects MTU’s pre-pandemic global strategy of getting closer to its customers to pay dividends when airlines resume flying. “The first moves will start to happen at the local and regional level,” he said, “so we’ll be very near our customers when they need us.”

The Middle East has been always “a very important market” for MTU Maintenance, he added. With the company’s wide portfolio covering 30 engine variants, whether the new emphasis is on narrow-body or wide-body operations, “we are prepared for either option”.

Reported by: MRO editor Chuck Grieve.


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