Singapore, the world’s only island city-state and fDi’s most recent Global City of the Future, has been named as the Aerospace City of the Future for 2016/17, in the first study of its kind conducted by fDi Intelligence. Between 2011 and 2015, the city attracted 39 projects in the aerospace sector, according to greenfield investment monitor fDi Markets, which powered it to first place in the FDI Performance category. The study showed Singapore outperformed every other city in terms of investment in the aerospace sector and overall FDI project numbers. 

Forty-one per cent of these inward investments were in sales operations, while investment in maintenance operations accounted for more than 30% and logistics for over 10%. Major aerospace investors include Netherlands-based Airbus Group, Canada-based Bombardier and US-based United Technologies Corporation. Meanwhile, China’s Haite Group established an aviation training centre in Singapore, describing it as a “trans-hub for Europe and the Pacific” and a “maintenance, repair and overhaul [MRO] centre for Asia-Pacific”.

This is directly in line with promotion efforts by EDB Singapore, the agency responsible for developing the city-state as an investment destination. EDB positions Singapore as an Asian destination for MRO investment, and claims 25% of all MRO output in the region comes from the city-state.

Singapore's Seletar Aerospace Park, which spans 300 hectares, offers companies world-class infrastructure and runway access, alongside plentiful opportunities for cluster integration. The park is not the only draw for investors, however, as Singapore also boasts a low unemployment rate of 1.9% and high GDP per capita of more than $82,000 at purchasing power parity.

The city-state recorded the highest level of exports and imports in aircraft and spacecraft on a per capita basis of all locations analysed, helping it to first place in the Economic Potential category. Every two years, it hosts the world-renowned Singapore Air Show, where government delegations and private sector executives meet to interact and do business. More than 1000 companies from nearly 50 countries and 3000 delegations from 90 countries attended the event in 2016.

Peak year for Dubai

Last year proved to be a record year for aerospace investment in Dubai, which finished second in the Aerospace Cities of the Future 2016/17 ranking. Twenty-six inward investment projects were recorded in the aerospace sector between 2011 and 2015, with projects, jobs and capital investment all peaking in 2015, bucking what had until then been a downward trend.

Air France KLM, which recently established a logistics facility in the city, describes Dubai as “the hub of the Middle East”, citing its geographical location as the reason for investment. More than 230 locations are in reach of the three airports within 80 kilometres of Dubai, and four ports lie within 100 kilometres of the city. The Middle East’s busiest port, Jebel Ali, is a 30-minute drive away, making Dubai a connected and attractive option for aerospace companies seeking to import and export their goods. More than 1100 exhibitors presented at the biennial Dubai Air Show in 2015, where some $37.2bn-worth of orders were arranged.

Innovative Shanghai

Shanghai, the most populous city analysed for fDi’s Aerospace Cities of the Future 2016/17 ranking, has taken third place. Between 2011 and 2015, the city attracted 1191 inward investment projects, with 11 in the aerospace sector. Moreover, 154 of the total projects were R&D-based and 83 in advanced manufacturing. The city provides an environment of innovation and research for aerospace investors, with six of its universities featuring in the QS Ranking of Top 300 Universities in Engineering, Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing, the highest number of any location analysed.

The city is also home to the Shanghai National Civil Aerospace Industrial base, which was established in 2007 and comprises an aerospace R&D centre, an aerospace park designed to attract hi-tech companies and industries and an aerospace museum. 


To create a shortlist for fDi’s Aerospace Cities of the Future 2016/17, the fDi Intelligence division of the Financial Times collected data using the specialist online FDI tools fDi Benchmark and fDi Markets, as well as other sources. Data was collected for 72 locations, under five categories: Economic Potential, FDI Performance, Cost Effectiveness, Innovation and Attractiveness and Connectivity. Locations scored up to a maximum of 10 points for each data point, which were weighted by importance to the FDI decision making process in order to compile both the subcategory rankings as well as the overall ‘Aerospace Cities of the Future 2016/17’ ranking.

In addition, surveys were collected under a sixth category, FDI Strategy, for which there were seven submissions, which make up our spotlight feature. 

Click on the link below for a PDF version of the complete results: