FARNBOROUGH: Global aviation’s Farnborough airshow opens Monday amid a sweltering heatwave, with the sector aided by a modest recovery in air traffic and with Ukraine boosting defence budgets.
Tens of thousands of visitors will flock to the five-day show, held southwest of London, as weather forecasters warn of scorching record temperatures in England.
“It’s going to be the hottest Farnborough ever, so if you are going there, take plenty of water, take a hat – and don’t be surprised if you see either very sweaty people or people in shorts,” said analyst Richard Evans at air transport data specialist Ascend by Cirium.
Britain’s Met Office has issued a historic red warning for extreme heat, with southern England temperatures potentially exceeding 40C on Monday or Tuesday for the first time.
Organisers insist the show must go on “as planned” and will provide water refill points, shaded areas and air conditioning throughout exhibition halls.
This year’s event, one of the largest civilian and defence shows, is the first global aviation get-together since the Covid pandemic hit.
“This is the first major global airshow for three years since Paris 2019,” Farnborough chief executive Gareth Rogers told AFP.
The biennial Farnborough show was cancelled in 2020 as the Covid health crisis grounded aircraft and ravaged the sector.
Global air traffic is gradually recovering and in May reached more than two-thirds of its pre-pandemic level, according to estimates from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
That recovery has however faced headwinds from rocketing inflation fuelled by historically high energy prices and higher wages, while staff shortages constrain airports and spark flight cancellations.
At Farnborough, US titan Boeing and its European arch-rival Airbus will battle for supremacy as they declare their latest multi-billion-dollar jet orders.
The show will this year zero in also on green themes of decarbonisation and sustainability, as many carriers seek to replace ageing fleets with modern fuel-efficient aircraft that emit less carbon dioxide.
Farnborough visitors will be thrilled by air displays by Britain’s Red Arrows and South Korea’s Black Eagles, as well as the US-made F-35 stealth fighter.
Airbus and Boeing will also showcase their latest twin-aisle passenger aircraft, the A350-900 and the 777X.
Meanwhile, Russia’s war on Ukraine has sparked an upsurge in defence spending as nations seek to bolster armed forces.
“Anecdotally we are certainly seeing a greater interest in the defence element of the show,” said Rogers.
Defence agreements are however not announced at Farnborough, unlike commercial civil aviation deals.