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Dubai Airshow: Aviation’s biggest deal maker?

A dramatic downpour swept across the United Arab Emirates (UAE) yesterday on the fifth and last day of the Dubai Airshow, forcing an early closure. Despite the wet ending, the show had seen a record breaking order book in excess of US$200 billion during the fourth day.


The Dubai Airshow took place for the first time at the Dubai World Central aerotropolis on November 17 – 21. The airshow organizers, F&E Aerospace, say the event attracted 1,065 exhibitors from 60 countries as well as thousands of attendees.

“The downpour did little to quash the high spirits of exhibitors and visitors to what has already been dubbed the benchmark event for global aviation,” said Sharief Fahmy, CEO of F&E Aerospace.

The airshow opened last Sunday and within three hours, the show’s order tally was US$162.6 billion – surpassing its previous record of US$155 billion set in 2007. The first day’s deals came from Etihad Airways, Emirates Airline, flydubai and Qatar Airways.

The opening order salvo came from Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways which announced a deal for 56 new Boeing 777s valued at US$25.2 billion at list prices, including related GE engines. The deal also sees Etihad become the launch customer for the 777-8X which is expected to enter service around the end of this decade.

The airline also ordered 30 Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners, making Etihad the largest customer for the composite aircraft.

Airline executives from Gulf-based airlines signed huge deals with major aircraft suppliers at the Dubai Airshow 2013.

Airline executives from Gulf-based airlines signed huge deals with major aircraft suppliers at the Dubai Airshow 2013.

“We rarely make announcements at air shows, but when we do the world listens,” said James Hogan, President and CEO, Etihad Airways.

Meanwhile, Dubai-headquartered Emirates Airline announced a US$99 billion purchase of Boeing and Airbus planes – which industry experts dubbed the largest-ever aircraft order in civil aviation.

The Emirates headline deal was for 150 Boeing 777X plus 50 purchase rights, and an additional 50 Airbus A380 – of which Emirates is currently the largest fleet operator.

The Emirates deal, signed by Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group and the Presidents of both Boeing and Airbus, was witnessed by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the United Arab Emirates, and Ruler of Dubai.

Low-cost airline FlyDubai weighed in with a US$11.4 billion order for 111 Boeing 737s and 738s, and then Qatar Airways topped off the morning’s historic agreements with the signing of a US$19 billion letter of intent for 54 Boeing 777s.

As the Dubai Airshow 2013 entered its third day, its record-breaking order book broke through the US$200 billion ceiling raising the event’s profile as a global business player.

Deals for Bombardier aircraft took the order tally to new heights with Iraqi Airways signing a letter of intent for five CSeries jetliners, worth approximately US$387 million, increasing to US$1.26 billion if 11 options are converted into firm orders.

Minutes later low-cost Thai carrier, Nok Air, placed a firm order for two Bombardier Q400 NextGen aircraft, as well as purchase rights on four more. The order is valued at approximately US$63 million and could increase to US$258 million if Nok Air exercises its options and purchase rights.

Having broken all world airshow order book records on Day One, the exhibition went to on record a steady stream of business. For instance, GE Aviation and CFM International received commitments for engines and services valued at $40 billion.

Ethiopian Airlines engaged in talks with potential Gulf clients for its MRO services. “This is a good region for us,” said Yiregalem Tekele, MRO Sales Manager. “There is increasing focus from the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) into the African market and we are ready to seize this opportunity.”

The Dubai Airshow is organised under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in co-operation with the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Dubai Airports, Dubai World Central and the UAE Armed Forces.

This year’s event covered 645,000 square metres, which included a single 42,870 square metre exhibition hall – about the size of seven football fields – and a third bigger than the three halls in the show’s previous home at Dubai Airport Expo.

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