Coronavirus: Biennial aviation show closed for public

COVID-19: Biennial international aviation show 'Wings India 2020' closed for public this time

The event is happening in Hyderabad even as the Telangana’s health department has been advising “that mass gatherings may be avoided or possibly be postponed till the disease spread is contained.”

The aerobatics performed by Indian Air Force Sarang helicopters’ and Mark Jeffrey teams were enthralling but the crowds that usually respond with thunderous applause were missing.

The Begumpet airport tarmac, which used to be packed with all types of aircraft from around the world on a captivating static display, was also largely empty this time, with Embraer’s E195-E2 Profit Hunter present as a noticeable mention.

The 2020 edition of Wings India 2020 - the international exhibition and conference on civil aviation from March 12 to 15 - at Hyderabad turned out to be a drab affair, because of the COVID-19 scare.

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Hyderabad’s Begumpet airport has been hosting the biennial aviation expo since 2008, as the airport in the heart of the city became inactive following inauguration of the swanky Rajiv Gandhi International Airport outside the city, nearby the Bangalore highway.   

Long queues of public wanting a glimpse of luxury jumbo aircraft of Emirates, Etihad airlines etc. would be missed this time, as the four-day event is closed for general public due to COVID-19 situation.

Event organizers – Ministry of Civil Aviation, FICCI and Government of Telangana were in a dilemma over going ahead with the show, at a time of mounting COVID-19 cases in the country.

“It was a challenge, but we took the evenhanded decision as the conference is important for the growth of the Indian aviation sector,” Usha Padhee, joint secretary, ministry of civil aviation told DH on the sidelines of the event on Friday.

The event is happening in Hyderabad even as the Telangana’s health department has been advising “that mass gatherings may be avoided or possibly be postponed till the disease spread is contained.”

“It was a collective, calculated decision of MoCA, FICCI and Telangana government to have the event but in a curtailed fashion,” the official said.

When asked if the international event has the Ministry of health and family welfare’s approval, Padhee stated that “they are aware.”

“We took all necessary precautions and safety measures,” said Padhee, who was seen inspecting the medical teams deployed at the entry points screening the delegates on Thursday.

An executive of a global name in aircraft manufacturing said that two airplanes planned to be brought in by a major airline were dropped “for understandable reasons.”

Asked about the participation of CEOs, exhibitors, aircrafts this year, Padhee said, “We will get to know towards the end, but it would be less, obviously.”

In almost all the sessions, COVID-19 was mentioned either on a lighter note or its effects considered on the aviation sector which is reporting losses.

Given the spread of the virus in several countries including US, Italy, France, there were bare minimum foreign delegates this time.

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