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Singapore Airshow returns after 6 years, attracting 30,000 visitors on day one

Singapore Airshow returns after 6 years, attracting 30,000 visitors on day one

For aviation enthusiasts like Yew Mui Meng, 62, the ninth edition of the Singapore Airshow is especially memorable since it is the first full-scale instalment of the biennial event after six years, following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nearly 30,000 visitors turned up on Feb 24, the first of two days when the show is open to the public, said organiser Experia.

Following complaints about traffic congestion during the days for trade visitors, more buses were chartered and more road lanes were opened to traffic.

Yew, a service technician, and his three-generation family were one of the first to arrive at Changi Exhibition Centre, where the air show is being held after they took the shuttle bus from Singapore Expo at 8 am.

Having passed down his love for aircraft to his son and three grandsons, Mr Yew’s entire family are now avid aviation fans who often engage in plane-spotting as they live near Tengah Air Base.

One of his grandsons, seven-year-old Zander Yew, was especially excited to see the AH-64D Apache helicopter – which is part of the air show’s static display – because he has always been fascinated with how turbine engines work.

The family of seven had spent $204 on tickets to the air show, which Mr Yew said was “acceptable” as they got to see all the aircraft up close.

Singapore Airshow returns after 6 years, attracting 30,000 visitors on day one

Singapore Airshow tickets for Feb 25 are still on sale on Sistic’s website. They cost $34 for adults and $17 for children aged three to 12.

Over the weekend, 38 commercial and military jets are on display in the outdoor static display section, with several hundred exhibitors showcasing their services and products in the exhibition hall.

The Straits Times noted that the Israeli booth and pavilion were both closed, and auxiliary police officers were stationed nearby.

It has been reported by the media that the police are aware of calls to protest against Israel’s conduct in the Gaza conflict by pasting stickers on displays at the Singapore Airshow.

Flying displays run from 11.30 am to 12.15 pm and 2.30 pm to 3.15 pm on both days of the weekend.

Some visitors, such as childcare centre principal Lavinia Didier, 39, enjoyed the thrilling aerial performances by the Republic of Singapore Air Force and the interesting heart manoeuvre by the Indian Air Force.

Part-time operations executive Sunjeet Singh Sandhu, 28, said that the display by the Republic of Korea Air Force’s Black Eagles was “hands down” the best one as the team had the longest time in the air and “best aerobatic performances”.

Among the crowd of plane enthusiasts was Jayden Yang, seven, whose interest in aircraft was ignited by his travels on commercial planes.

Singapore Airshow returns after 6 years, attracting 30,000 visitors on day one

While his favourite aircraft is the Airbus A380, the CH-47F Chinook helicopter, which he saw at the air show, may just be his new top choice.

Eight-year-old Viveca Loh was waiting with her father in a shaded spot 30 minutes before the aerial display.

An avid fan of fighter jets, Viveca’s interest in aviation was sparked by the animated TV series Super Wings, which features aeroplane characters who deliver packages to children around the world.

Delighted by the amazing speed of fighter jets, Viveca said that she may consider chasing her dream to be a pilot in future.

Singapore Airshow returns after 6 years, attracting 30,000 visitors on day one

The traffic situation had eased substantially on Feb 24 morning, with SMRT single, bendy and double-decker buses chartered to ferry people between Singapore Expo Hall 5 and Changi Exhibition Centre. This was an improvement from the crawling traffic experienced during the first few trade days.

ST observed that there was minimal waiting time for visitors in line, with a new shuttle bus arriving the moment one departed. The shuttle bus trip from Singapore Expo to the showgrounds took around 30 minutes.

Traffic on the road was also smooth due to the opening of six lanes, up from four lanes previously, on Tanah Merah Coast Road.

Singapore Airshow returns after 6 years, attracting 30,000 visitors on day one

However, in the afternoon, visitors leaving the venue were caught in a long shuttle bus and taxi queues.

Some visitors, such as Amanpriet Dhingra, were resigned to waiting longer for their ride.

The director in her 40s said that she had already expected that a big crowd of people would be leaving the venue after the last aerial display of the day. But she added that the shuttle bus queue was “moving fast”, and she estimated a 20-minute wait at most.

Student Dian Marzuki, 20, said that the queue was “acceptable” because it was “constantly moving”, and was segregated into three sections with separate boarding points, which made the queuing process more tolerable.

However, engineer Gaya Serlim, 60, said that the queue was “too long”, and he could not secure a ride home on ride-hailing apps even after 30 minutes of trying. Mr Serlim said he had “no choice” but to wait more than 20 minutes for the shuttle bus.

Correction note: An earlier version of this story said that police officers were stationed near the Israeli booth. The Singapore Police Force has since clarified that auxiliary police officers were the ones stationed near the booth. We are sorry for the error.

Esther Loi

The Straits Times

Asia News Network