Amid the pandemic, HAI has a most difficult task ahead – how (or whether) to run Heli-Expo 2021, scheduled for March 22-25 in New Orleans. With ten weeks to go, there is no way of predicting what the situation will be regarding travel, quarantine, lockdown etc, and the event is reliant on international visitors from right around the world.
Air travel is severely restricted at this time. Some countries are requiring a negative COVID19 test before boarding, while others are requiring mandatory two weeks quarantine on arrival.
This last weekend, the city of New Orleans went into a new level of restrictions (called “Modified Phase One“) for an initial period of three weeks which limits the attendance in conference venues to 25% of the number the building is licenced for, along with mandatory mask-wearing, no food/drinks inside such venues, etc.
Yesterday John Bel Edwards, the Governor of Louisiana, tweeted that every parish in the whole of the state was on the highest level of community risk of COVID spreading.
HAI spokesman Dan Sweet told HeliHub.com “We are aware that international borders will likely remain closed. We believe our industry needs this boost, so we are going to continue for the sake of those who can attend. We believe this is the best course of action in a regrettable situation. We are approaching the deadline for booth deposits, and we expect to have a better answer after that deadline passes. As of right now, all OEMs are participating.”
To us, that seems very optimistic. In maintaining a database of over 400 aviation conferences and exhibitions, there are just seven globally in those intervening ten weeks which still appear to be going ahead as “in-person” events according to their respective websites. On the other hand, large industry events such as the Eurasia Air Show (April), the Brazilian defence event LAAD (May) and the massively popular Paris Air Show (June) are already cancelled.
On the other hand, the finances of HAI are heavily dependent on Heli-Expo. But so are the livelihoods of lots of industry companies which may choose to stay away in order to give themselves the best chance of steering clear of COVID19. We trust that the decision will not put dollars ahead of health.
Don’t book your flights or accommodation yet!
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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