August 1, 2013

Interest in Airshows Is In a Free Fall

BA_Dive.jpgThere is a strong discussion going on over at AirFacts in regards to a recent article asking "Are airshows dying?".

The sad reality is that I think there is little to debate, interest in airshows is in fact declining. There is a lengthy list of reasons that may contribute to that including a decline in the pilot population, weak economy and the grounding of military demonstration teams as a result of sequestration to name a few.

A source I often look to when trying to establish a trend is Google Trends. Sadly, as you can see from the charts below there is an indisputable decline in interest for airshows, if search traffic is used as an indicator.

AirVenture, America's largest annual gathering of aviation enthusiasts, widely considered the largest airshow in the county, has seen modest declines if you rely on their data which shows a 12% decline from 2009 (578,000 attendees) to 2012 (508,000). However, the picture is more bleak when you look at the Google Trend which shows a peak in July 2006 declining to nearly half the search volume of 2006 in 2012. With Airventure 2013 closing in a just a couple of days it is unlikely that enough searches will come in during the final days to improve the 2013 trend. As Airventure is more about experimental aircraft and general aviation it should be of note that the decrease in interest in the show this year is likely not drastically effected by sequestration.

The Chicago Air & Water Show which is just around the corner will surely suffer serious interest and attendance declines without the Thunderbirds headlining this year. The Google Trend shows that current interest is below where it was just five years ago. I think this show which historically relied heavily on military demonstrations will be adversely effected by sequestration. It will be very interesting to come back to this report in a few weeks to see what the 2013 search volume was like for the Chicago Air and Water Show.

The most concerning trend might be for the generic term "Airshow" which received peak searches in 2004, with a nearly equal volume of searches in 2006 but a sharp decline from that year forward. Although, 2012 saw more "airshow" searches then 2011 it still represented half of the volume searched in 2004 and well through the 2013 season search volume is half of 2012 which may be the effect of sequestration showing itself. The term airshow has enough search volume that Google is capable of providing a forecast which is as disturbing as the historical trend. (Please note: Forecast is not show in the embedded trend below, click on full report and select trend to view).

I think this data clearly shows that interest in airshows is declining. The questions is what if anything can be done about it?

Posted by at August 1, 2013 9:23 PM
Comments

I certainly don't have any answers - but just wanted to say thanks for the post. Really interesting data you've dug up, Todd. I really enjoyed taking a look at it!

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