Next edition of Aero India likely in Goa

Stealing the show: 'Matter came up at internal discussions between Parrikar, HAL'

Next edition of Aero India likely in Goa

 Saturday might just be the last time Bengalureans will get enthralled by the aerial extravaganza of Aero India. The Defence Ministry has reportedly sent clear indications to the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) that the 2019 airshow will have to be shifted to Goa.

HAL insiders told DH on Friday that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is really keen to take the show to his home state. However, the shift could materialise only if the BJP wins the Goa assembly elections, they said.

If Parrikar takes over as the Goa chief minister, the airshow will be “definitely shifted,” a senior HAL official said preferring anonymity. Insiders said the matter came up during internal discussions between the minister and the HAL at the Aero India 2017.

Unlike the previous editions of Aero India, no announcement was made on the schedule and venue of the next airshow.

The matter was skipped by Parrikar during his inaugural address at the Yelahanka Air Force station here on February 14.

Three weeks before the airshow, Parrikar had cited Goa’s successful organisation of the Defence Expo last year to drop hints about the shift. Implying Goans, he had said if the local population wanted it, both the Expo and airshow can be shifted to Goa.

Challenges ahead

However, the change is likely to face resistance from a section within Goa apprehensive about loss of land. During the 9th edition of the Defence Expo, locals had voiced their concerns that a huge tract of land in Quepem, South Goa, could eventually be taken over by the Defence Ministry.   

Goa’s capability to hold an event of Aero India’s size has also been questioned.
A top official who had visited the Defence Expo said several foreign participants had complained about the remote location of the venue and the poor road connectivity.

The venue was a two-hour drive from the state capital Panaji. The approach roads were narrow and congested. Logistically, these could pose huge challenges while transporting materials for a show as big as Aero India, the official pointed out.

Only 549 companies turned up for the Aero India 2017, compared to over 650 in the previous edition. Was the participation deliberately kept low to take the sheen off the airshow in Bengaluru? This question had found resonance at the airshow.

However, HAL officials refuted this, contending that the low turnout was due to the Centre’s already announced purchase decisions based on government-to-government deals, and the emphasis on ‘Make in India.’
Cost-cutting by European aerospace firms was another factor.

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