Over 70 exhibitors, including US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin and 12 Chinese companies, have pulled out of Asia's biggest aviation and defence event Singapore Airshow amid mounting concerns over the novel coronavirus outbreak in China that has claimed 811 lives and spread to more than 25 countries.
The organiser of the six-day event starting on Tuesday said on Sunday they planned to sell fewer tickets to the public as part of measures against the coronavirus epidemic.
The event will continue as planned, and companies that have pulled out represent about 8 per cent of participants, said the event organiser Experia Events.
Leck Chet Lam, managing director of Experia Events, told reporters that the organisers "respect the decision" of the companies that decided to withdraw.
The withdrawals were due to recent travel restrictions and stricter company policies on non-essential employee travel in light of the coronavirus that has spread to many countries, the organiser said.
Over 930 companies will be exhibiting and 45,000 trade attendees are still expected. All 12 Chinese companies originally on the exhibitor slate were among the participants that withdrew, according to a report in The Straits Times.
On Sunday, the exhibition spaces of firms such as Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China and China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation, remained empty.
Some 70,000 public visitors attended the 2018 Singapore Airshow over two days. There will be close to 45 assets on show in the static aircraft display, about 10 fewer than the 2018 edition, said Leck.
Responding to a question of airshow cancellation if the situation worsens and Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (Dorscon) level escalates to red, Leck said the organisers will take guidance from the policies and measures implemented by Singapore's Health Ministry in making any decision.
Singapore moved its disease outbreak response up a level to orange on Friday as the coronavirus spread further within the country, with three new cases announced of unknown origin.
Under the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition, or Dorscon, code orange means the outbreak is deemed to have moderate to high public health impact.
Leck assured it was Experia's responsibility to make sure that the show goes on and the trade visitors still get the chance to network and discuss business opportunities.
"(Singapore Airshow) has grown to such a stature that it is a very important node of the entire ecosystem of the global aviation industry," Leck said.
In light of the coronavirus crisis, a slew of precautionary measures are being adopted, including seat tagging at events such as forums and conferences in case the need for contact tracing arises, and conducting temperature screening at entrances to event sites at Singapore Expo and Changi Exhibition Centre.
A team of doctors and medics will also be deployed to attend to visitors who feel unwell, along with enhanced cleaning and refuse management, and making hand sanitisers available to attendees.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday urged the people of his country not to panic and remain united as the novel coronavirus outbreak which has continues to wreak havoc in China and abroad.
"We have faced the 2019-nCoV situation for about 2 weeks now. People are understandably anxious & fearful, but there is no need to panic - Singapore has ample supplies. Instead, let us remain united & resolute, stay calm & carry on with our lives," the prime minister said in a tweet.
The death toll in China's coronavirus outbreak rose to 811 on Sunday, while over 37,000 people, including 40 from Singapore, have been confirmed as being infected with the virus.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)