DESPITE fewer international visitors during the week, Farnborough Air Show enjoyed a healthy surge of interest from the public at the weekend.

Final attendance figures have yet to be confirmed, but a spokeswoman for the organisers, the Society of British Aerospace Companies, said that the fine weather had seen up to 150,000 people descend onto the airfield on Saturday and Sunday. The comparable figure for two years ago was only 130,000.

The five trade days saw a similar figure for international visitors -but this was a ten per cent drop on the year 2000.

Orders at the show plummeted to six billion pounds -against a record 52 billion two years ago. This was said to have been expected -it reflects the current international uncertainty and state of the aerospace industry.

Local roads had their best show for many years. The nightmare gridlocks of years ago were nowhere to be seen and even at peak times police kept things on the move. Organisers said visitors had been encouraged not to bring cars and the decision to park most of those that did come in Queen's Parade rather than in airfield areas avoided long delays while security checks were carried out.

Early flying ace Sam Cody was honoured by American exhibitors who presented a plaque to be attached to his obelisk in the garden of the very first RAF Officers' Mess, at Farnborough.

Other familiar names from Farnborough's past who returned included former world speed record holders Neville Duke and Peter Twiss.