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Boeing leads rival Airbus in orders: Dubai Airshow

Nov. 18, 2013, Dubai, U.A.E. - U.S.-based Boeing dominated on the first day of the Dubai Airshow, netting $100 billion in orders at an event that showcased the spending power and aggressive expansion efforts of the Middle East's Gulf Arab carriers.


November 18, 2013
By The Associated Press

The 342 orders represented more than twice the value of those seen by
European rival Airbus, who said it took 142 orders worth some $40
billion.

 

The massive commitments came from just
four carriers in the tiny nations of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates,
which are in a race to create more jobs for their own citizens and
diversify their oil-dependent economies.

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"In recent years, much of the action in
global aviation has shifted to the Middle East because countries like
the U.A.E. and Qatar have tapped into our geographical advantage to
build a new air transport connection for the world," Sheikh Ahmed bin
Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Emirates and the smaller flydubai, told
reporters.

 

Of the major Gulf Arab carriers,
Dubai-based Emirates airline flexed its buying power the hardest, with
orders for 150 of the planned Boeing 777x at a combined price tag of
$55.6 billion. The aircraft is a larger and more fuel-efficient model of
the company's popular 777 wide-body.

 

Boeing CEO James McNerney Jr. called it part of the "largest product launch in commercial jetliner history."

 

The airline also announced orders for 50
Airbus A380s — the main competition for the 777X. Airbus says the
planned purchase is listed at $23 billion.

 

The Dubai Airshow is seen as an
increasingly important barometer on the state of the aviation industry
and the rising roles of the big-spending Gulf carriers Etihad, Qatar
Airways, Emirates and flydubai as they compete for routes and critical
stopover traffic between Asia and Europe and the Americas.

 

This year's event, which also included
announcements of promised purchasing rights for dozens more aircraft,
surpassed the record $155 billion in deals in 2007's edition, before the
global economic downturn.

 

The five-day aviation trade show's
location, at the new Dubai World Central airport's grounds, further
reflects the Gulf Arab region's own rapid growth in the aviation
industry. Dubai hopes the new airport will be the largest in the world
and the most frequented transit hub, connecting European and Asian
travellers.

 

Plans calls for most of
the traffic from Dubai's current airport to be eventually shifted to the
new facility, which officials say could one day handle 160 million
passengers a year as part of the region's growing profile as a global
aviation hub. It remains unclear whether Dubai will continue to operate
both airports or eventually move traffic entirely to the new airport
grounds.

 

"To me what's happening at Dubai World
Central, Dubai (International) Airport, Emirates Airline and flydubai,
all this reflects the growth of aviation globally and in this region,"
Al Maktoum of Emirates and flydubai said.

 

For Boeing and Airbus, the Gulf Arab
region has become a key battleground for new aircraft and big-ticket
orders that can shape the companies' outlooks for years.

 

Boeing received orders at the airshow for
150 777X planes from Emirates, 50 from Qatar Airways and 25 from Abu
Dhabi's Etihad Airways, the Chicago-based manufacturer and the airlines
announced in separate news conferences. Boeing also inked deals with
Etihad for 30 of its 787-10 Dreamliners and one cargo plane, and with
budget carrier flydubai for 86 aircraft, most for its single-aisle 737
models.

 

The Dreamliner deal is an important nod
of support in the Gulf for the troubled aircraft, which has suffered
groundings in the past year over battery problems.

 

The 777X orders come even
as Boeing looks for alternative sites to develop the plane after
machinists in the Seattle area rejected a long-term contract.

 

The long-range, twin-aisle 777 holds
about 365 passengers, making it Boeing's second-biggest plane. Since its
first flight in 1994, it's been a bestseller for Boeing, which has sold
more 777s than any of its other current large planes.

 

In May, it began offering the revamped
777X. Boeing is still finalizing plans for the plane — aiming to deliver
the first aircraft by the end of the decade — but it has said it is
expected to carry as many as 400 passengers and to be more fuel
efficient than the current 777. Previously, Lufthansa had made a
commitment for 34 of the 777X.

 

With almost $78 billion in combined
purchasing commitments announced at the opening of the five-day airshow,
Emirates airline cemented itself as one of Boeing and Airbus' largest
and most important clients. The airlines said some of the new aircraft
will replace existing ones and others will be used in the company's
expansion.

 

The airline's chairman said Sunday's
announcements will likely scare some of his competitors who are fighting
to preserve monopolies on landing rights at airports in their home
countries. Aviation industry manufacturers must work to try and ease
those kinds of restrictions, Al Maktoum added, "otherwise why would we
buy something and not allow us?"

 

"Then they can take the
aircraft back," he said. "But I don't think something like this will
happen. I always look that the future will be positive and we'll be
allowed to fly to more and more destinations."