Airbus wins $30bn in orders at Dubai Airshow as Boeing lags behind

Airbus finalises deal with Emirates for a firm order of 50 A350-900 wide-bodies valued at $16bn

Dubai, United Arab Emirates- HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum of Emirates Airlines and Guillaume Faury of Airbus at Emirates press conference at the Dubai Airshow 2019 day 2 at Maktoum Airport.  Leslie Pableo for the National
Powered by automated translation

Airbus wrapped the second day of the Dubai Airshow with blockbuster jet deals worth $30 billion (Dh110.2bn) from local customers Emirates and Air Arabia, stealing the spotlight from US rival Boeing.

Airbus finalised a deal with Emirates for a firm order of 50 A350-900 wide-bodies valued at $16bn at list prices. That replaces an outline deal in February for 30 A350s, which also included A330 Neos valued at $12bn that are currently still under discussion.

Deliveries of the Rolls-Royce-powered A350s start in 2023 through to 2028, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Emirates, said at a press briefing on Monday.

"During the past month as negotiations continued we did a thorough review of various aircraft and of our own fleet plans, we are confident in the performance of the A350XWB and we believe this aircraft will be a good fit for our operations at Emirates," he said.

Emirates' decision on the revised deal comes as it reviews its fleet requirements and after expressing its ire with plane makers over delivery delays and performance issues. It also comes as the carrier faces tough operating conditions and the end of production of the A380 superjumbo.

The A350 will have various cabin configurations, including premium economy, and will be used on long-haul flights of up to 15 hours from Dubai. Emirates' premium economy class on its A380 superjumbo will start in November 2020.

Airbus has been engaged in intense talks with Emirates to finalise the A350 deal.

"It's been a lot of work in the last months to come to this agreement and it's a great outcome," Guillaume Faury, chief executive at Airbus, said. "We are extremely happy to see the A380 have a young but very talented brother in the Emirates fleet."

Airbus chief commercial officer Christian Scherer told The National that the talks to bring the A350 deal to fruition "were very intense".

Discussions are still ongoing between Emirates and Airbus regarding the 40 A330 Neos, for which the carrier signed an outline deal in February, Sheikh Ahmed said.

“It is on our radar. I don’t want to say now we’ve cancelled it or not, because we’re still talking about it,” he said.

When asked whether he was optimistic about finalising the A330Neo deal, Mr Scherer referred the question to Emirates.

"If you ask me, does the A330 bring value to Emirates? The answer is yes."

Emirates is also continuing discussions with Boeing on a separate deal for 40 B787 Dreamliners, Sheikh Ahmed said.

Airbus on Monday also landed a $14bn order from Air Airabia for A320 Neo-family jets.

The long-awaited deal includes a mix of A320 Neos, the larger A321 Neos and the longer-range A32XLRs to be delivered starting in 2024 for fleet growth and replacement, Adel Ali, Air Arabia's chief executive, said.

The longer range aircraft A321 XLR is a "game-changer" for  Air Arabia, helping the all-Airbus operator reach more destinations in South East Asia, Europe and Africa, he said. The carrier has yet to pick an enginemaker to power the new jets.

Air Arabia, one of the biggest low-cost carriers in the region, has entered into a joint venture with Etihad Airways to operate a budget carrier from Abu Dhabi that is expected to begin operations by the second quarter of 2020.

Some jets from the new order could be deployed to Abu Dhabi, its other UAE hubs in Sharjah and Ras al Khaimah, or its operations in Egypt and Morocco "as and when needed", Mr Ali said.

The two deals marked a win for Airbus over its US rival Boeing, which took a hit from a global ban of its competing 737 Max narrowbody following two fatal crashes.

However, Boeing did win an order from Turkey's SunExpress for 10 additional 737 Max jets, in a vote of confidence for the embattled jet. These will complement their airline's existing order of 32 Max aircraft.

The deal, valued at $1.2bn at list prices, is the second Max order following the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash in March that prompted a global ban of the Max narrowbody fleet.


Dubai Airshow Day 1 — in pictures