The city has civil and military air infrastructure and hosts the entire aerospace ecosystem of the country.

Bangalore’s well-oiled civil and military air infrastructure, its brand as an aerospace city, the ease it provides for hosting large international fraternities and some push from overseas participants and politicians might have worked to keep Aero India with it for the 12th time, according to voices from the aerospace and defence industry.

In recent weeks, Lucknow had cropped up unofficially as its challenger until the Defence Ministry on Saturday announced Bangalore as the venue for Aero India 2019 in February. The “rumour” about an uncharted Lucknow being the new venue stayed alive after Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman ambiguously said last month that many other States wanted to host the biennial show and conference.

“I am glad about this decision,” Air Marshal B.K. Pandey (retired), who was the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the IAF’s Headquarters Training Command, Bangalore, during 2003-04, said. (The Air Force Station, Yelahanka, where the air show is held, falls under the Command.) Lucknow’s Bakshi ka Talaab Air Station, which was said to be the alternative site, did not compare in any way to the Yelahanka base in size, radio aids or logistics, he said.

“The entire aerospace ecosystem of the country is right here in Bangalore. Foreign defence and aerospace companies that participate in airshows would not see any logic or relevance of doing business in Lucknow, especially with no prior notice,” he said.

Protest Against New Timing?

Both in 2015 and 2017, the venue and date of the next show were not announced, as was the custom at the inaugural event. The buzz in July-August was that not only the venue, the date would also be moved ahead to October or November this year. Did the international participants protest a new timing at short notice?

This might be highly possible, according to Air Marshal Pandey. “Most of them have their budgeting from January to December, in their financial year. You cannot suddenly impose a new date and a financial burden on them for 2018. They may have had to skip the event if it were held this year.”

Well Proven Logistics

According to the Air Marshal, foreigners could directly land in Bangalore unlike with Lucknow. The city’s well proven cabs, hotels, logistics would also stack up high against the “rice fields” of Bakshi ka Talab.

Venues of international airshows were chosen after much consideration. For the last 100 years, Farnborough in the UK and Le Bourget near Paris had been the world’s two premier air shows. If not on scale, Aero India held in Bangalore came pretty close to them with its civil and military focus, according to D.R.Subramanyam, vice-president of the Society of Indian Aerospace Technologies and Industries (SIATI) and MD of a Rs. 30-crore small enterprise. His company SLN Technologies P Ltd supplies `black boxes’ or flight data recorders to Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd for Sukhoi-30Mki fighter planes and the Light Utility Helicopters.

According to Mr. Subramanyam, small and medium enterprises concentrated in and around Bangalore were increasingly aligning themselves with Indian and global aerospace majors. They would have skipped a distant non-Bangalore venue and lost an opportunity to interact with global majors.


Participants suffered many inconveniences when the DefExpo was shifted twice from Delhi - to an ill-prepared Goa in 2016 and Kanchipuram in 2018. Any experiment with a new venue should be planned a few years ahead, he said.

Defence Ministry officials denied it but senior bureaucrats in the ministry, officials of the Air Force and Uttar Pradesh administration were discreetly visiting Lucknow and assessing the amenities there since around mid-July. Internal meetings were held and defence enterprise Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd was alerted “to be prepared for Lucknow,’’ said a person in the know of the developments.