The debate about whether you need all these air shows is not new. Companies are complaining about the excessive cost of attending four or five of these events annually, often with expensive chalets. And the value of the secondary shows is limited.
If there needed to be any proof, then ILA Berlin Air Show could serve as exactly that. There was exactly one aircraft order announcement during the entire week: Intersky, an Austrian regional airline, bought two ATRs. It is significant for Intersky because the airline is a Bombardier Q400 operator. But ILA showed in an impressive way that things have slowed down in terms of sales activities this year. And the little that could be announced had already been presented in Farnborough.
There are four letters that are the main reason why ILA will be around in the future: EADS. If France and the U.K. have an air show, then Germany wants one, too, particularly since EADS is currently to a large degree a Franco-German company and will, if the merger with BAE Systems really goes through – be a Franco-German-British company, not forgetting Spain’s current 4% stake in EADS. ILA will be even more needed as a political token to show that German interests aren’t losing out as part of the transaction.
EADS and its suppliers politically really can't afford not to be there, but the real deals are made elsewhere. That the EADS-BAE Systems merger plans surfaced during ILA, was pure coincidence.