Official statement on the cancellation of the SIAF 2024

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Official statement on the cancellation of the SIAF 2024

As the principal organizer of Slovakia's largest aviation event, the Slovak Aviation Agency has received with concern the publicly circulated information that the Ministry of Defense of the Slovak Republic has currently decided it is not interested in the Slovak International Air Festival SIAF 2024 taking place this year.

The announcement comes as particularly shocking, with the ministry misleadingly asserting that we had been aware of their intent not to proceed with the SIAF 2024 as early as January of this year. The decision by the Ministry of Defense represents a unilateral decision, of which our company had not been previously informed, nor does it have any support in the framework agreement we have established with the Ministry.

“I must confess that this news has hit me hard, and I am disappointed because, to this day, we have not received any written notification regarding the unilateral non-participation at SIAF 2024. I believe that the minister is not sufficiently informed by his team. Due to the military parade planned for the 80th anniversary of the Slovak National Uprising at the end of August 2024, we had communicated with the Air Forces of the Slovak Republic regarding the change of the dates for MLD SIAF. With this information, representatives of the Slovak Air Forces even attended the International Military Air Show Conference (IMACS), where dates were discussed at an international level," states Hubert Štoksa, director of the Slovak Aviation Agency. He adds:

“We still hold a valid framework agreement for organizing the air days from 2021 to 2024, with an option extending to 2026. It is incomprehensible to me why, if they were not interested in this year's SIAF taking place, they did not properly and timely inform us according to the framework agreement by January 31. Instead, we discussed proposals for potential solutions regarding the scheduling of MLD SIAF 2024. To accommodate all possible alternatives, we even canceled this year's Aviation Festival in Piešťany. Despite written appeals to the defense sector and efforts to negotiate personally about the execution contract, we have to date received no feedback. I consider the decision currently being communicated in the media as unilateral, without prior professional discussion. Despite everything, I want to express a desire and send a clear signal that I will continue to do everything to sit down at the negotiation table with the Ministry of Defense of the SR and the Armed Forces of the SR to find a common solution for future editions of the International Air Days SIAF to ensure the continuity of this significant event in Slovakia."

With long-standing practice and in accordance with the framework agreement, the Slovak Aviation Agency was prepared to ensure the organization of the 14th edition of MLD SIAF and has already taken several steps to date. It should be reminded that all financial and logistical costs associated with organizing the event have always been borne by the Slovak Aviation Agency.

“The largest air event cannot be organized in one week; therefore, we, along with the organizational committee, have been intensively working on the preparations for SIAF 2024, and as early as September 2023, invitations were sent from the level of the commander of the air forces to various countries. SIAF was to be organized as part of the celebrations of the 80th anniversary of the SNP, the 20th anniversary of Slovakia's entry into NATO and the European Union, and the 75th anniversary of NATO. Visitors could have experienced the European premiere and presentation of the F-16 D BLOCK 70 aircraft along with their ceremonial christening and the visit of significant personalities. Another edition of the Golden Wings poll, the National Aviation Award of the Slovak Republic, as well as an exhibition associated with dynamic and static demonstrations of the Ministry of Interior within the rescue exhibition ZAVA, were also to be part of SIAF 2024," adds Štoksa.

SIAF has long been one of the largest, most visited, and most prestigious aviation events in Slovakia. Since its inception in 2011, approximately 1.2 million visitors have passed through its gates, and it annually hosts participants from 15 countries around the world. In 2017, SIAF ranked as the fourth largest event in Europe. Organizers have previously won the main prize for contributing to the organization of European Air Days, as well as a marketing award.

"The International Air Days SIAF are an internationally recognized project, and they have established a good reputation not only in Europe. The current step, or rather the action of the Ministry of Defense, I perceive not only as incorrect conduct but also I am concerned that the way in which MLD SIAF was cancelled will have a negative impact on the good reputation of our company, especially on the good name of the SIAF brand itself, which our organizational team has long worked on together. It is incomprehensible to me that the state does not fulfill and adhere to valid contractual relationships. At this moment, we must count on economic losses because, due to the cancellation of MLD SIAF 2024, we objectively will not be able to fulfill our commitments to international partners and event sponsors with whom we have established cooperation," concludes Štoksa.

This year's International Air Days SIAF 2024 will not take place.