Dubai's air show defies pull-outs

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The Independent Online

This year's Dubai Air Show is to go ahead despite the offensive against Afghanistan, the aviation crisis and the desertion of some key exhibitors. Honeywell, the US engineering group, is one of the significant aerospace players to have pulled out of the show. Another is Cessna, the maker of small workhorse and executive aircraft. Others are believed to want to stay away but fear the effect on future business in the Gulf.

The show will feature stands from aviation companies and a display of 80 aircraft. The crisis in the aviation industry means cash is short, and the increased risks in the Middle East mean exhibitors could have difficulty insuring the expensive equipment they are bringing over there.

Neither Honeywell nor Cessna could give reasons for their decision to pull out of the show. But it is understood that a significant number of exhibitors have expressed concerns over their safety in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. But the company has been working to put them at ease, and the UAE government is keen for the show to go on.

"The Dubai government says it is business as usual and we are following that policy," said a source. The exhibition starts two weeks today, and will be the seventh show at Dubai.

After the 11 September atrocities, the world's largest exhibition of business jets was postponed in the US. The convention of the National Business Aviation Association was due to take place in New Orleans just two weeks after the attacks in New York and Washington. The convention has now been rescheduled for the middle of December.

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