Dubai Airshow set for 'good deals' on civil and military contracts, Sheikh Ahmed says

Event will be the first major aerospace expo in two years since Covid forced the cancellation of the Paris and Farnborough air shows

This month's Dubai Airshow is set to be a platform for "good deals" for both civil and military contracts, according to Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed, president of Dubai Civil Aviation and chairman of Dubai Airports.

In response to a question from The National about the appetite for deal-making at the 2021 aerospace exhibition, Sheikh Ahmed, who is also chairman and chief executive of Emirates airline and group, said he has "very positive" expectations for the in-person event, which comes after a period of online meetings worldwide.

"As one of the world's most important aviation, tourism and trade hubs, we are once again hosting an important in-person event and returning to business normality," he said on Monday.

"Through strategic planning, world-class measures and advanced technology, we have shown that we can overcome any challenges and these are the elements that are enabling us to host the Dubai Airshow.”

The biennial air show is the first major aerospace exhibition in two years since Covid-19 forced organisers to cancel the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget in 2021 and Britain’s Farnborough International Airshow in 2020.

This was the first time since the Second World War that the Paris Air Show was cancelled.

The air show, which has reported record-breaking business deals worth billions of dollars in past events, is scheduled to run from November 14 to November 18.

The cancellation of two major international air shows makes the Dubai event "even more important for the global aviation and aerospace industry", Sheikh Ahmed said.

"Based on the number of new participant countries and exhibitors this year, Dubai Airshow 2021 is set to be bigger and better than in 2019."

Emirates will hold discussions with US plane maker Boeing "before and during" the air show over its 777X wide-body aircraft, said Sheikh Ahmed.

The airline, which is the launch customer for the 777X, admonished Boeing for continued delays in its 777X programme, which is disrupting the airline's "meticulous" fleet plans that stretch well into 2038, Emirates' president Sir Tim Clark said in Boston last month.

Mr Clark said at the time that he did not know when the delivery date of the first 777-9 would be, nor if the smaller 777-8 variant of the twin-engine jumbo jet would be built.

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Dubai Airshow 2019

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The aircraft's debut is three years behind schedule. Boeing had originally planned to deliver the 777X in June 2020 but is now aiming for the end of 2023.

Emirates, which typically releases its half-yearly financial results in November, has registered "good and positive" indicators of growth, Sheikh Ahmed told reporters.

Dubai International Airport, Emirates' home base, will reopen Concourse A in the next week, which will bring the airport to full capacity for the first since the pandemic began, he said.

The Dubai Airshow will be a "landmark event of the year" that will encompass civil aviation, defence, military, space, cargo, emerging aviation technology and aerospace start-ups, said event organiser Tarsus.

This year's event will feature 1,200 exhibitors, of which 371 are new exhibitors and 80 are start-ups, Tarsus managing director Timothy Hawes said.

About 20 country pavilions will be set up at the air show, up from 15 in 2019, as the Czech Republic, Belgium, Brazil, Slovania and Israel take part this year, he said.

At least 160 aircraft will be on display on the tarmac at the Dubai Airshow site at the Dubai World Central airport.

Hosting the Dubai Airshow 2021 is a "testament" to the emirate's response to Covid-19, which was focused on protecting public health while softening the blow to the national economy, Sheikh Ahmed said.

Updated: November 1st 2021, 12:49 PM
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