Dubai Airshow marks industry 'turning point' with deals worth $78bn

Global plane makers secured deals, reconnected with customers and expressed optimism about future at the aerospace event last week

Members of Al Fursan aerobatics demonstration team of the UAE perform a fly-over at the Dubai Airshow.  EPA
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The Dubai Airshow raked in $78 billion in secured or announced commercial and military deals during the five-day event last week, the first major aerospace exhibition in two years.

Among the most significant deals, Airbus received orders and commitments for 408 aircraft, comprising 269 firm orders and 139 provisional orders, covering the range of its commercial aircraft families, including a first commitment for the new A350 freighter version.

The manufacturer, based in Toulouse, France, bagged a major order for narrow-body jets from private equity company Indigo Partners. The group's airlines placed a firm order for 255 A321 Neo family aircraft, valued at $32 billion at 2018 list prices, although customer discounts are customary.

“Low-cost airlines looking to capitalise on a leisure-led travel recovery showed a healthy appetite for new aircraft at the Dubai Airshow, and the Airbus A321 garnered the most orders as airlines focus on driving down costs per seat,” a report by Bloomberg Intelligence said. “Demand for wide-body planes suffered due to an uneven return to long-haul flying.”

Global aircraft manufacturers secured deals, touted new freighters, reconnected with customers and expressed optimism about the future at the Dubai Airshow, which ended on November 18 amid signs of recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic that hammered the aviation industry last year.

More than 104,000 attendees flocked to the biennial event, which recorded a 50 per cent increase in trade visitors compared with the previous edition in 2019, according to Dubai Airshow 2021 organiser Tarsus Middle East.

“The event has been a real testament to the resilience, robustness and adaptability of the aviation and aerospace industries to come back with such strength after the pandemic,” said Timothy Hawes, managing director at Tarsus Middle East. “There have also been greater commitments towards sustainability and decarbonisation, which is of critical importance across the globe.”

Some 387 civil and military delegations attended the event, with 148 countries represented, according to the organiser. And 371 new exhibitors showcased their products at this year's expo, along with more than 80 start-ups.

About 175 aircraft were on display at the runway, including a number of international debuts such as Boeing's 777X wide-body jet.

The next edition of the Dubai Airshow will take place in 2023 at the Dubai World Central (DWC) — Al Maktoum International Airport.

Updated: November 24, 2021, 4:39 PM