Dubai Airshow soars to become the world’s top aviation event

American manufacturer Boeing surfaced as a winner, securing orders and commitments worth US$95 billion, beating counterpart Airbus, while the order book for the Dubai Airshow broke a total deals record of $200bn on the third day.

A host of different aircraft were on display at the Dubai Airshow at Al Maktoum International Airport. Pawan Singh / The National
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Following a record-breaking week, the Dubai Airshow is now the top aviation event in the world, industry analysts said yesterday.

“Overall, the show now puts Dubai as the world’s number one air show. The show has stamped its authority as a must-do venue for aviation deals,” said Saj Ahmad, the chief analyst at StrategicAero Research.

At the airshow the American manufacturer Boeing surfaced as a winner, securing orders and commitments worth US$95 billion and beating its European counterpart Airbus.

On its third day, the order book for the Dubai Airshow, the 13th, broke a total deals record of $200bn, after Bombardier aircraft received orders worth $387 million from Iraqi Airways.

“The orders, although expected in some quantity, astounded everyone – even the airlines. The message is that ‘you ain’t seen nothin’ yet’,” said Will Horton, a senior analyst at the Centre for Aviation (Capa).

Combined orders from the world’s two biggest aircraft manufacturers, Boeing and Airbus, reached about $179bn, with most of the buyers coming from the Middle East.

Expansion of Arabian Gulf carriers such as Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways is gradually shifting the future of air travel to the region. The strategic location of Dubai and Abu Dhabi is another great advantage, where almost 80 per cent of the world’s population lies within eight to 10 hours’ flying time from the two emirates.

At the air show, the Boeing chairman, president and chief executive Jim McNerney launched the company’s 777X jet with 259 orders and commitments from Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad and a previously announced order from Lufthansa.

“Dubai 2013 has been a truly historic and record-breaking air show for the Boeing company,” said Charlie Miller, the firm’s vice president of international corporate communications.

“As for Abu Dhabi, key deals struck by Mubadala show they are wanting to penetrate the OEM [original equipment manufacturer] market for parts and supplies – the contracts for existing Airbus jets, and now 777 and 787, puts Mubadala against global rivals vying for new aerospace aerostructure work,” said Mr Ahmad.

“In the long term, that’s a good thing as it diversifies their business yet complements the growing likes of Etihad Airways, too.”

France’s Airbus won a total of 160 orders and commitments worth $44bn, as the European manufacturer highlighted the appeal for its flagship jet – the A380.

“This is probably one of our best Dubai Airshows,” said Fabrice Brégier, the chief executive of Airbus.

“We had an initial target of 800 orders [for the year] and we are above 1,200 so it means we have over-achieved our initial target. We will deliver close to 620 aircraft,” Mr Brégier added.

Another highlight at the show was Etihad flying its brand with a regional carrier from Europe, after it took a 33.3 per cent stake in Switzerland’s Darwin Airline.

Capa said Etihad would now be able to “connect the dots” in Europe for itself and partners, linking hubs and cities.

“Many of these cities are served by the Lufthansa Group. This gives rise to the second significant impact: on Europe’s legacy carriers,” said Capa.

“Gulf carriers have had sensitive relations with certain European countries, and now antagonism is brewing in the US. The difference here is that the UAE and Qatar have open skies agreements with the US. But the antagonism is still a concern,” said Capa’s Mr Horton

“With the orders from the Dubai Airshow comes a giant carrot to dangle if the regulatory environment is not conducive.”