The organisers of AVALON 2021 have officially confirmed the cancellation of this year’s air show, following its earlier postponement, due to “increased uncertainty” and the spread of COVID-19.
The AMDA Foundation, which organises the iconic Australian air show and exhibition, said it had to make the “difficult decision” in order to minimise risk and disruption for both industry participants and attendees.
The next AVALON event is now scheduled for 2023, currently expected to take place from 28 February to 5 March 2023.
It comes just days after Melbourne entered its sixth lockdown since the beginning of the pandemic, while Sydney entered the seventh week of its current lockdown, both sparked by outbreaks of the Delta variant.
“The pandemic has already required the AVALON organising team to work through many past challenges in respect of the 2021 event, including postponement from its original planned dates,” said Ian Honnery, CEO of the AMDA Foundation.
“However, recent developments as a consequence of the COVID-19 Delta strain have highlighted that the environment has become more unpredictable. Delivering such a highly complex, hallmark event in these challenging circumstances would involve risks of uncertainty for attendees, participants, industry and the Australian public.
“Therefore, in order to minimise uncertainty and disruption to attendees and participants, the difficult decision has been taken now that AVALON 2021 will not go ahead.”
Honnery said the foundation is “deeply disappointed” by the decision, however added that public health and safety “must be paramount” when planning “such a complex and multi-faceted major event”.
“With the expected transition to post-COVID normalcy, AVALON 2023 will return to international prominence as one of the world’s great air shows,” Honnery said.
“Showcasing the colour, spectacle and excitement of aviation, and the industrial and technological potential of aerospace, defence and space as national strategic capabilities, AVALON 2023 will again take Australia to the world by bringing the world to Australia. Neither the sky, nor space, will be the limit at AVALON 2023!”
The news has come just one month after the air show’s organisers pledged their commitment to seeing through AVALON 2021 this coming November, despite other high-profile cancellations in the area.
The event, originally slated to take-off in February 2021, was officially postponed in May last year, and it was announced shortly after that AVALON would now take place from 30 November to 5 December 2021
The ADMA Foundation’s announcement restating its commitment to these dates followed the announcement that the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, originally scheduled to take place just days ahead of AVALON in Melbourne from 19 to 21 November, would be cancelled for the second year in a row due to COVID-19.
“The organisers of AVALON 2021 share Australia’s disappointment that the 2021 Formula One Australian Grand Prix has been cancelled through COVID related issues,” Honnery said at that time.
“However, the COVID challenges of international driver and team quarantine, which ultimately forced cancellation of the Grand Prix, are not issues that will materially affect AVALON 2021.”
Honnery said that, while welcome should international borders allow for it, the presence of international visitors was “not critical to the success” of the event.
“Planning for the event has always allowed for the possibility that international border restrictions and travel constraints may result in fewer people attending from overseas than would have happened without the complications created by the pandemic,” he said.
“The major elements of a highly successful and exciting AVALON 2021 are inherently Australian and are therefore unaffected by issues of international travel restrictions.”
AVALON 2021 was expected to be one of the largest air show events in Australia’s history, showcasing the nation’s largest public display of Australian Defence Force aircraft, according to its organisers.
The event hoped to highlight and celebrate the centenary of the Royal Australian Air Force, as well as bring Australia’s aviation sector back together in the largest aviation event since the beginning of the pandemic.