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News Analysis: Paris Cancels Its June 2021 Air Show: What It Means To U.S. Events

The biggest commercial event in the world, airshow organizers saw fit to pull the plug well in advance. What do they know that we don’t?

A scene from the 2017 Paris Air Show. Organizers announced this week that they had cancelled the June 2021 event due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A scene from the 2017 Paris Air Show. Organizers announced this week that they had cancelled the June 2021 event due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The organizers of the Paris Air Show announced earlier this week that they were cancelling the 2021 edition of the biggest commercial air event in the world. The event, which is held every other year, had been slated to run from June 21 st to the 27th.  Now it will be scratched altogether. The next show will be in June of 2023, which was its regularly scheduled spot.

No one is wondering why the 2021 show is being canceled. It’s because of the pandemic, the organizers said. Well, not exactly, they said it was because of “uncertainty” surrounding the pandemic. It will refund any deposits exhibitors made for the 2021 event and focus on planning for the 2023 show.

The cancellation raises the question, what does this mean for United States shows in 2021? The introduction of vaccines—in the UK, health care workers and nursing home residents began getting vaccinated yesterday (December 8, 2020). And the same will happen in the United States, the CDC says, before the end of the year. But the process starting and life being back to normal are not the same thing. How long will it take before the virus has been stopped in its tracks and we can resume large gatherings of people? Experts are very cautious about hazarding a guess.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, regarded by many as the top expert in the field, said recently that it could be as early as between April and July, but only if a great majority of people get inoculated. Some experts put that magic number at around 70 percent of the population. It also remains to be seen how many people will actually get vaccinated once the vaccine is widely available.

Others aren’t so optimistic. A top epidemiologist in the UK said that it would likely take a year, so winter of 2021, before we’re back to normal. Others take an even dimmer view, predicting it could be as long as five years.

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The truth lies somewhere in there, and it will make it from hard to impossible for planners of next year’s air shows to predict what the circumstances will be when their events are set to launch in 2021.

Some of it will surely have to do with the event itself and its comfort with going forward—Sun ’n had a live, public event this past weekend in Lakeland, Florida, despite the virus being at its historic peak in the United States, so in some places the show will likely go on regardless, so long as state and local governments give the thumbs-up for them, as is the case in Florida currently.

How things will go a few weeks after the Thanksgiving holiday or perhaps even more a few weeks after the winter holidays remains to be seen. Fauci told reporters that this winter could be a “very dark” time in the United States, but how things progress once vaccines start being administered is simply not yet known.

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