Growth-focused airlines continue deals spree at Dubai Airshow

More orders for new planes and partnerships to boost aviation ecosystem announced

Emirates signalled its vote of confidence in the long-delayed 777X programme with an additional order of 90 of the planes at the Dubai Airshow. Leslie Pableo / The National
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Deal activity remained robust on the second day of the Dubai Airshow, as airlines continued to build their fleet size with more orders placed on Tuesday.

EgyptAir, the state-owned flag carrier, placed an order for 10 new Airbus A350 wide-body aircraft during the Dubai Airshow, its first for the model, as part of the airline's broader plans to expand its fleet and grow its long-haul network.

The North African airline will begin taking deliveries of the A350-900 jets starting in 2025 through to 2027, said Yehia Zakaria, EgyptAir Holding's chairman and chief executive.

The National earlier reported that the airline was in talks with Airbus to secure A350s.

EgyptAir's subsidiary, Air Cairo and CFM International signed a multiyear agreement to cover the shop visits of 28 Leap engines used in the 14 Airbus A320neo aircraft currently operated by the airline.

Fellow North African carrier Ethiopian Airlines placed an order for up to 67 Boeing aircraft as it aims to be one of the world's top 20 airlines by 2035.

The deal comprises firm orders for 20 737-8 jets, with an option for an additional 21, and 11 787-9 Dreamliners, with an option for a further 15.

Meanwhile, Air Arabia, the Sharjah-based low-cost carrier, placed an order for 240 CFM Leap-1A engines to power its existing order of 120 Airbus A320neo planes.

The deal, with a book value of more than $3.36 billion at list prices, aims to support its future expansion plans, underpinned by the planes scheduled for delivery in 2025.

US plane maker Boeing, meanwhile, is optimistic about lining up more orders for its new 777X and expects a “broad market” for what it claims will be the “world's largest twin-engined aircraft” when it appears, the company's chief executive of commercial aeroplanes said.

“I'm very confident in the long-term success of the product itself, that's why we invested in it and even during Covid we launched a freighter version of it … we see a broad market for this, it will be the ultra-big plane of the future and that serves a unique role,” Stan Deal told The National on the sidelines of the Dubai Airshow.

Emirates signalled its vote of confidence in the long-delayed programme with an additional order of 90 of the 777X planes on the first day of the Dubai Airshow on Monday.

The Dubai airline, the world's biggest long-haul carrier, dominates the order book for the aircraft.

“I'm not concerned about where the orders are coming from. We're quite confident about the long-term success at Emirates and our other launch customers,” Mr Deal said.

Partnerships to boost aviation ecosystems

Emirates signed several contracts worth a total of $1.2 billion with French aerospace company Safran that cover products from its new aircraft seats to wheels.

The agreements include a $1 billion deal at list prices for business, premium economy and economy class seats on Emirates’ new A350 and 777X-9 jets and its existing Boeing 777-300 fleet.

Separately, Emirates announced plans to build a $950 million engineering complex at Dubai World Central, aimed at supporting its future growth and the wider Middle East's robust aviation sector.

The one million square metre complex is expected to boost Dubai's economy by attracting key players in the global aviation industry to the emirate and create thousands of skilled technical jobs.

Emirates' sister airline, low-cost carrier flydubai, announced plans to open a $56 billion full-flight simulator and training centre at its aviation campus, as it prepares for the growth of its fleet.

The 3,530-sqm complex, which will be built with Canada's CAE Group, will house six simulator bays capable of more than 43,000 training hours per year.

Saudia and Riyadh Air, the flag carriers of Saudi Arabia, have signed a preliminary agreement to support the kingdom's burgeoning aviation sector, with plans to collaborate further in the future.

The pact covers a comprehensive interline and codeshare agreement that will allow passengers to connect between sectors operated by either Saudia or Riyadh Air, the carriers said.

Updated: November 14, 2023, 1:38 PM