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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mail Q&A: Taking to the skies - LIMA Organising Director

The Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) exhibition began in 1991 as the brainchild of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Since 2005, this biennial event has been organised by HW LIMA Sdn Bhd. With the next exhibition slated for Dec 6 to 10, the organiser's managing director Ahmad Dzuhri Abdul Wahab shares with The Malay Mail writer ASRUL HADI ABDULLAH SANI what participants and visitors can look forward to later this year.

Q: What is LIMA’s new approach for this year’s exhibition and how will it be different from previous installments?

A: From 1991 to 2009, LIMA had evolved into more of a defence platformThe current overall market potential in the region shows a strong commercial sector for the maritime and aerospace industries. Certainly, we do not want to miss out on that.
We are trying to revive what was initially intended for LIMA 2009. That being our focus this year, we have included three new segments: commercial aviation, commercial shipbuilding plus maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services, which will be introduced for the first time at LIMA 2011. Already there are signs that this is being received very well.
About 20 per cent of our current exhibitors are from the commercial sector. I think we can get 30 per cent of our existing customers and new customers to participate in the commercial sector exhibits.
In the end, we are looking to have a 60:40 ratio between commercial and defence participation in our exhibition. This is our long-term target. When we can achieve that will depend on how hard we work.

Q: Will the introduction of these commercial aviation, shipbuilding and MRO services sector participation boost LIMA 2011?

A: Definitely. For LIMA 2011, I think we now have attracted up to 23 per cent new-to-market companies. Out of that figure, 20 per cent are from the commercial sector.
Q: Will there be an increase in the number of participants this year compared to 2009?

A: In 2009, we had 25 country exhibitors participating. As of now, we have 33 countries already. In 2009, we had 325 companies while this year we have 368 companies registered as at earlier this month. Once the European companies come back from their summer holidays, we will see this figure increase further. We are targeting to have about 500 companies.
We will also see an increase in country pavilions from nine in 2009 to 13 this year. The new additions include Turkey, our biggest country pavilion, Portugal and Slovakia.

Q: How many aircraft and vessels are going to participate in Lima 2011?

A: In 2009, we had 99 ships. I don't know if we can achieve these figures again. We are targeting about 90 vessels. Agencies, including those of our government, have decreased their participation numbers due to operational requirements.

Q: Do you think LIMA 2011 will be an important platform to promote local aerospace and maritime products and services?

A: Of course. We have put in place several programmes to help our local industries.
First, we are inviting consultants from the aerospace and maritime industries to talk to our local companies about Asean growth potentials and how to penetrate this market.
Together with Matrade (Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation), we have a B2B (business-to-business) programme to act as a forum where meetings are arranged based on a company's profile.
Interested Malaysian companies just have to register with us and Matrade will match them with potential clients. Over two days, they can have six to seven meetings with potential clients and that would be a big boost for our companies.
We also look to LIMA helping our government's aspiration for Malaysia to be a maritime and aerospace hub.
Apart from leveraging LIMA as a better business platform, we are also helping to catalyse interest among school-leavers and students in both the aeronautical and maritime industries.
We have worked with some of the exhibitors, especially our air force and navy, to give talks and programmes during the last two days which we are calling ‘career days’. This is being implemented for the first time in the hope that it would give more value to our customers, visitors and in the end, our industry.

Q: Will there be any special packages for visitors?

A: As far as entry is concerned, we are already generous. It will only cost RM10 each to enter the exhibition areas, but we will probably try looking into family packages and so on.
Q: What will be LIMA 2011’s main attractions?

A: We are very excited for this year's programme, we have almost all the plane manufacturers interested in bidding for our (Royal Malaysian Air Force or RMAF) MRCA (multi-role combat aircraft) programme. We have the Eurofighter Typoon, Rafale from Dassault, and Boeing F-18 Super Hornet coming.
All these aircraft will come for static displays and also fly at certain times during the exhibition. For the public, I think this is a wonderful opportunity to see the different types of aircraft in the same sector.
Our transporter Airbus A400M, coming in 2012, will also be at LIMA 2011.
We will also have our 1Malaysia aerobatic team performing, through a public and private arrangement between the RMAF and a local company. We are using a single-seat turboprop aircraft extra 330L and using pilots from RMAF to form what is now known to be the 1Malaysia aerobatic team.
We are still waiting for an answer from the Russian Knights aerobatic team. Most of the aerobatic teams in the world are from the northern hemisphere, the famous ones normally hibernate during the winter months when LIMA is held. That is when they start training new pilots and produce a different team.
So, it has been quite an exercise to get overseas aerobatic teams to come to LIMA simply because it is their off-season then.
Malaysia’s second submarine, KD Tun Abdul Razak, will be coming too. So, it is a fantastic opportunity for the public to come and see something we cannot see any other day.

Q: Will there be any deals signed at LIMA 2011?

A: At the last LIMA, we had RM5.4 billion worth of business conducted. With the addition of the commercial sector, I think we will be able to surpass that amount this year.
I would not like to speak on the behalf of the Defence Ministry on the contracts to be signed, but I believe the value of those contracts will most probably be significantly more.

Q: How much has the government poured into LIMA 2011?

A: This is public and private venture. So it is on a cost-sharing basis between the government and us. Yes, it is overall a bigger budget but the investment the government makes every year has remained at a plateau since 1999. It is indeed a testament to how well LIMA has continued to grow despite government investments remaining the same.

Q: Why should people come to LIMA 2011?

A: Fundamentally, people should come to LIMA this year because there will be lot more aircraft and ships on display. The array of aircraft and ships we are going to see at LIMA this year will be different from any other LIMA.
When I say array, I mean they will be both from the defence and commercial sectors. We have five of the leading combat aircraft manufacturers and assets coming to LIMA.
Four of the leading helicopter manufacturers in the world are coming to show off their assets. We also have Gulfstream and quite a number of business jets being displayed.
So, I think there will be a lot more activities and a lot more things to see, a lot more aerial displays including our aerobatic team. We want people to come cheer our aerobatic team and see how well they perform.
Lastly, it is going to be an educational LIMA with lots of programmes and talks to get people excited about possible careers in maritime and aerospace. There will be a lot of things happening at LIMA this year.

AL :- 
Bigger participant to LIMA exhibition. This just mean one thing.. Bigger crowd & fully booked hotel.. 
I urge Langkawi & Businesses don't take this opportunity to increase the price unnecessary.  

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