The 2013 Dubai Airshow began with a bang, with the show’s order tally surpassing $192.3 billion on day one, beating its previous record of $155 billion set in 2007 – with deals coming from Etihad Airways, Emirates, flydubai and Qatar Airways.
Emirates maintained its fervour for jaw-dropping first day Dubai Airshow deals by announcing $99 billion worth of orders that will have delighted Boeing and Airbus.
As widely anticipated, the airline placed a 150-plane order for B777Xs, comprising 115 B777-9Xs and 35 B777-8Xs, and half an hour later, and slightly less expected, it announced a $23 billion order for an additional 50 A380s.
The Emirates 777-8X and -9X will be a combination of two and three-class configurations with the -8X potentially seating 342 passengers and the -9X seating over 440 passengers.
Emirates president Tim Clark said the 9X would be delivered in 2020 and the 8X “18 months behind it”. The announcement today includes the purchase of 300 GE9X engines which will power the 777Xs.
The first 25 aircraft in the new 50-strong A380 order, which takes the airline’s superjumbo orders to 140, aim to be delivered before the first quarter of 2018. Clark said the premium and economy sections would be “refined”.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates Airline and Group, cited increasing slot restraints at many leading hubs as one of the main reasons for the new A380 deal and he hoped it will lead to a protectionist-free era. “The message is we are coming and countries really have to open up,” he said.
Sheikh Ahmed said in two years’ time it may place additional orders for more aircraft should Dubai win Expo 2020 but he stressed these aircraft are designed to meet the city’s growth targets of 20 million by 2020 irrespective of the Expo bid. He an announcement on the future of Dubai World Central will be made “in the next couple of months”.
Emirates was not the only big spender; Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways unveiled a deal worth $25.2 billion at list prices for 56 new Boeing wide-body aircraft, with options and purchase rights for a further 26.
The order includes 25 Boeing 777X aircraft of which 17 are 777-9X and eight are 777-8X aircraft, 30 787-10 Dreamliners and one 777-200 freighter. The announcement makes Etihad Airways the largest airline customer for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
The carrier also revealed an firm order for 50 A350 aircraft and 36 A320neo aircraft and one A330-200 freighter as part of its fleet modernisation strategy. The airline also has stakes for a further 30, with the total deal valued at $26.9 billion.
The GCC’s third major airline, Qatar Airways, also joined its rivals in making some big announcements on day one of the Dubai Airshow. The airline revealed an order to buy 51 of Boeing’s new 777X jets and also placed a firm order for five new Airbus A330-200 freighter aircraft with options for an additional eight aircraft in a deal valued at $2.8 billion.
In a breathtaking morning, low-cost carrier flydubai also placed an order for 100 Boeing 737MAXs and up to 11 Next-Generation Boeing 737-800s, in a deal worth $11.4 billion – marking the largest commitment to order a single-aisle Boeing aircraft in the Middle East.
Deliveries of the first B737 MAX will start in the second half of 2017 and continue until the end of 2023.
“Flydubai is basically throwing down the gauntlet to other GCC airlines that it too wants to expand and top 100 destinations before the decade is out,” stated aviation analyst Saj Ahmad.