No Change in Plan: Aero India 2019 to Remain in Bengaluru

The Ministry of Defence was earlier considering moving the Aero India show to Lucknow.

2 min read
A file photo of the Flying Bulls at Yelahanka Air Force Station, Bengaluru gearing up for Aero India 2015.

In a decision that is sure to bring cheer to the Karnataka government, and allay fears of the aerospace and defence establishments in the state, the Ministry of Defence on Saturday, 8 September announced that Bengaluru will host Aero India 2019. The show is slated from 20 February to 24 February.

The Centre’s decision earlier in August to shift the location to Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, had resulted in a political slugfest in the state with Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy even shooting off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi detailing why he opposed the move.

As reported by Economic Times, Aero India 2019 was scheduled to be shifted to the Bakshi Ka Talab air station in Lucknow, and was to be held between 27 October and 4 November this year.

Press statement by the Ministry of Defence released on September 8.
Press statement by the Ministry of Defence released on September 8.
Press Information Bureau (Defence Wing), Government of India

Decision to Move Aero India to Lucknow Was Labelled ‘Political’

The decision to shift the location of Aero India had been met with shock and massive opposition, in what was viewed as an obvious ploy by the BJP government to posit Uttar Pradesh as a manufacturing destination for global aviation companies, ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, as reported by Economic Times. Several Indian and international industry leaders and defence companies also expressed doubt over the short preparation time, casting doubt over participation.

Had the change come to fruition, it would have meant that Aero India would not have been hosted at the Yelahanka Air Force Station since its inception in 1996, and the first time it would take place in a non-scheduled year. The biennial event was last held in 2017.

Historical precedence indicated that for the show to maintain its sanctity would require consistency of location as seen in other international air shows, such as Le Bourget in Paris (France), Farnborough in Hampshire (UK), Dubai, Singapore or the biennial MAKS air show in Zhukovsky, Russia, according to Firstpost.

“I seek your indulgence for conducting the 12th edition of Aero India-2019 in Bengaluru, where the mega event was held successfully for 11 times biennially since 1996,” said state Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy in a letter to Modi.

According to Firstpost, the change of location was sparked by the request of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to host the event, with the intent of giving a fillip to the proposed 'UP defence corridor', announced in this year’s annual budget. One defence industrial corridor has also been planned in Chennai, for which stakeholder meetings are also ongoing.

Congress ministers in the state had taken the BJP leaders to task, demanding accountability for the change.

Bengaluru is seen as the perfect venue for the event, given the presence of the country’s premier aircraft manufacturing industry, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. The last Aero India in February 2017 had seen the greatest participation till date, of over 30 countries and over 500 Indian and international companies.

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