Hong Kong has long been a global commercial crossroads and Asian Aerospace - held in the city from 8-10 March - offers exhibitors and visitors a route to two worlds.

One is the enormous mainland Chinese market next door, slowly embracing the global aerospace industry as customer, partner and supplier. The other is the wider region, most of it with already sophisticated aviation sectors and in easy reach of the autonomous Chinese territory.

This is the third Asian Aerospace in its new home since organiser - and Flightglobal sister company - Reed Exhibitions' controversial split with long-term partner Singapore in 2006.

Asian Aeropsace
 © Billypix

It will be the first time the event has taken place in March, moving from September because of the risk of typhoons while putting 11 months between itself and the new and military-focused Singapore air show, held in February every even year.

"Being opposite Singapore works very well for us," says Richard Thiele, Reed Exhibitions' head of global sales. "While they seem to be pushing the military element, we are completely focused on commercial."

Asian Aerospace bears little resemblance today to its earlier guise in the South-East Asian island state. For a start, military restrictions with China means no defence element. Secondly, the show, at the AsiaWorld-Expo next to the international airport, is purely business-to-business, without air display or public days. It also includes a three-day conference and shows-within-a-show, including Asian Business Aviation and Air Freight Asia.

The 500-plus exhibitors include Airbus, Boeing and many of the major systems suppliers, as well as new regional jet players Sukhoi and Mitsubishi.

The show is also being supported by the main aviation organisations from China itself.

Last year's show attracted 12,600 visitors and although Thiele expects about 70% of attendees to come from mainland or Greater China (Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan), he insists that - unlike its counterparts in Zhuhai or Beijing - Asian Aerospace is "not a Chinese show".

Hong Kong's "neutrality" means exhibitors are there purely for commercial rather than political reasons.

"They attend because they want to, not because they have to," Thiele says.

From a standing start, business aviation is starting to establish itself in China and the neighbouring region and most main manufacturers will attend the Asian Business Aviation event, held at the airport's Business Aircraft Centre. With 20 jets on static display, chalets and its own indoor exhibition space, ABA is bidding to become the first truly established business aviation convention in Asia.

Its niche status and the absence of a defence element means Asian Aerospace will never be one of the big, multi-sector air shows. However, its location, timing and inclusion of burgeoning cargo and business aviation elements, in addition to its core airline appeal, are making it a key event in the industry calendar.

Source: Flight International