Transport crunch "unlikely" as show opens to public

The transport woes that visitors to the Singapore Airshow faced earlier this week are not likely to be repeated when the event opens to the public today, organisers say.

Experia Events said that 95 per cent of the 85,000 tickets available have been sold for this weekend and that, unlike the trade shows earlier in the week when many visitors took taxis to the Changi Exhibition Centre showgrounds, most public visitors will use shuttle buses to and from Singapore Expo, which will cut vehicular traffic.

Tempers flared on the first day of the airshow last Tuesday when trade visitors had to wait over an hour for cabs.

This was because on-call taxis, as well as services like Uber and Grab, were blocked by Experia to avoid the traffic congestion of previous years.

But the cab crunch eased when the organisers arranged for more cabs to drive into the venue.

Experia managing director Leck Chet Lam said the company is working with the Land Transport Authority and taxi companies to get more cabs at the venue.

Defending the decision on the taxi ban, Mr Leck said: "If you have 60 or 70 of them all coming in and getting lost in this compound, that adds to the congestion."

Wrapping up the four-day trade segment of the airshow, Mr Leck announced that 50 deals were signed, many of which were for undisclosed amounts. The 11 deals disclosed were worth a total of about US$12.7 billion (S$17.9 billion).

At the previous biennial show in 2014, there were 44 deals signed, including 20 with a disclosed total of US$32 billion in sales.

The final deal announced yesterday was Air Niugini buying four Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft from the United States plane maker.

Mr Leck said that this year's show "exceeded expectations" and underscored its importance as a platform for commercial aviation companies and defence contractors to showcase their products and emerging technologies.

In addition, the number of agreements signed among industry players to boost the aerospace industry's capabilities doubled to eight, said Mr Leck.

Nearly 10 per cent more trade visitors attended the show, including a 5 per cent increase in the number of VIP delegations. However, no numbers were revealed.

"The key elements that we look at, they are all on the upward trend," said Mr Leck. "On top of that, we also added elements that are relevant for the industry, like emerging technologies, emerging dialogues."

Some 70 per cent of the 1,000-plus exhibitors who participated have already said they will return for Singapore Airshow 2018.

Highlights today and tomorrow include the flying displays which take place at 10.30am and 2.20pm, subject to schedule changes.

This article was first published on February 20, 2016.
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