The 15th International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS-2021 was held at Zhukovsky Airport near Moscow from 20JUL21-25JUL21. As many as 831 companies from 56 countries participated. The
organizers welcomed 135,020 aviation professionals and visitors and granted accreditation for more than 2,600 journalists from 485 Russian and 94 foreign media.
However, unlike previous MAKS shows, this year’s Salon was more of a national Russian aviation event, with foreign exhibitors only showing moderate interest.
U.S. aircraft developer Boeing was completely absent and archrival Airbus only sent an A350-1000 to Zhukovsky, showcasing its newest and most modern aircraft for the first time in Russia.
However, compared to past aviation shows, many industrial suppliers based in the EU, the USA, Japan, or Canada did not attend, nor did leading managers of global freight companies. The main
reason for this, supposedly, are the numerous sanctions imposed by Western countries against the Putin regime due to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, which largely brought trade in aircraft
components, especially electronic instruments, to a near standstill. In the case of the Russia-built MS-21-300 passenger version, the sanctions delayed its development by almost 3 years.
Least international presence
According to news agency TASS, contracts worth 265 billion rubles (€3.05 bn) were signed during the six-day long fair, with the lion’s share of 230 billion rubles (€2.65 bn) attributed to Rostec,
the state-owned holding corporation controlling almost the entire aerospace industry in Russia.
“It is obvious that MAKS-2021 can be called an event with the least international representation since 1999,” Ruslan Pukhov, Director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and
Technologies (CAST), told the media.
Besides the sanctions imposed by Western countries that keep torpedoing the trade of sensitive industrial goods stemming from foreign suppliers, fear of the pandemic has deterred many potential
participants from coming to Zhukovsky. Russia has been a country reporting high infection rates for months.
An Indian delegation stood out against this background. Not long ago, Washington recommended New Delhi to refuse or significantly reduce purchases of Russian weapons and military equipment. The
Indian government, however, turned down such demands by saying that their national security and defense policy would be decided in New Delhi, not in Washington.
Military flight shows dominated
The absence of air framers Boeing and Airbus, including their key suppliers, pushed military programs and flight shows to the forefront of this year’s aviation Salon, demonstrated by often
spectacular air maneuvers. Although here, too, a decline in interest was noted, especially from the Russian military.
This gap was filled by aircraft such as the Saab JAS 39 Gripen, French-produced Dassault Rafale, and Chinese-produced fighters.
Given Russia’s increasing international self-isolation under the Putin regime, the harsh repression of political opponents, and the ongoing cyberattacks by Moscow-supported hacker groups on
Western enterprises, politicians, and governments, it can be assumed that the biennially held 16th MAKS in 2023 is unlikely to be more attractive to exhibitors and visitors from Europe, North
America, Israel, or Japan.
“The social and political climate in Putin’s kingdom is oppressive, and doing business in Russia is becoming increasingly difficult,” the cargo manager of an international freight
forwarder told CFG. If things do not change for the better, his company will not participate in the upcoming MAKS, he announced.
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