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Lack of funding, planes leads to cancellation of Edmonton-area international airshow

A pair of American F-18's flies as part of a demonstration at the Alberta Airshow in 2021. A pair of American F-18's flies as part of a demonstration at the Alberta Airshow in 2021.

A major Edmonton-area airshow scheduled for next month has been cancelled.

The Alberta International Airshow was slated for Aug. 17-18 before organizers announced Tuesday the show, which sometimes attracts tens of thousands to the Villeneuve Airport northwest of the city, will not go ahead due to unexpected financial and resource issues.

"We just couldn't get enough funding in time, didn't get enough interest in time," said Richard Skermer, producer of the airshow and festival.

"We were just not getting the assets we thought we could get, so it's just not worth putting on the show. We'd be getting a lot of people very disappointed." 

Skermer said the assets — air-related machines that are mostly planes — that typically come from the Canadian Forces were not available because of other work and show commitments.

"These military assets, what people forget (is) they're business machines, and right now with the state of the world, they're doing their business," he said, referring to a rise in military action globally and conflicts in the schedules of teams from the U.S. and overseas.

The airshow has been staged at the Villeneuve Airport off and on since 2015, when the event — at times called the Edmonton Airshow or the Edmonton International Airshow — made its return to area skies for the first time since 2002.

Wet weather grounded the 2019 event, the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out plans for the 2020 show, while the 2022 version was cancelled because of a tragic Snowbirds crash in B.C. that year.

Skermer said the airshow and the Villeaero Aerospace and Logistics Conference will return in 2025, likening the overall event to the Calgary Stampede.

"Stampede is not a rodeo, Stampede is a 10-day business-acquirement festival. They happen to have a rodeo with it," he said.

"This was supposed to be the same model, which is there's a whole bunch of stuff going on, and 'Oh, by the way, at the end of this, we funded an airshow.'"

In the future, Skermer said the airshow will consider what sorts of assets they can reliably attract to stage one, perhaps looking at bringing in a different mix of entertainment.

"We may not be able to get the military assets, so (do) we start looking at racing, do we start looking at making an all-civilian show?" he said.