The 48th edition of the Paris air show is expected to see similar crowds from 2007 and an improved exhibition area.

But the global recession is likely to curb the show's 12% growth spurt for visitors between 2005 and 2007, and claim some notable corporate absences. Facing a severe business jet slump, Cessna and Gulfstream have withdrawn their attendance from the show. Another business and regional jet supplier - Embraer - is not exhibiting any aircraft.

The show had also hoped to see the debut of the Lockheed Martin F-22 and perhaps new Russian fighter variants, but neither could be made available for the 100th centenary of the event by their respective governments.

But the signs are not completely grim. Despite the economic situation, air show officials announced that the roughly 130,000m2 (1.4 million ft2) of available exhibition space sold out in February, and industry visitors should remain constant from 2007 at about 150,000 people.

Meanwhile, GIFAS has invested more than $10 million on infrastructure upgrades since 2007, which included expanded car parks and gate areas. A 400m (1,300ft) grass runway has also been laid to accommodate older aircraft invited to the show's historic anniversary.

The biggest test of the show's success is probably the weather. A gloomy forecast anticipates rain and overcast skies from today until Thursday.

Source: Flight Daily News