Dubai may harbor ambitions of one day hosting an airshow to outshine those held in Paris and Farnborough, but on one score the Gulf emirate is already well ahead. The nearly $80 billion worth of aircraft sales commitments announced through the first two days of the show smashed all-time records and easily surpassed even an impressive tally recorded at June’s Paris Air Show.
Sunday’s $35 billion order by Emirates Airline for a mix of Airbus A350s and A380s and Boeing 777s headed a long list of business announced over the first two days of the show, punctuated yesterday with a pair of orders for 200 airplanes from Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE).
Other Middle East airlines made splashes with orders here as well. Qatar Airways firmed up an order for twenty-two 777s and added commitments for five 777F cargo aircraft. Air Arabia, a Sharjah-based low-cost carrier, placed a firm order for 34 A320s. Saudi Arabia’s National Air Services converted to firm orders a letter of intent it announced at Paris for 20 A320s. The company’s low-cost carrier, Nasair, also inked a deal with Embraer for five E190 regional jets. Clearly, from the pace of orders and letters of interest, the region has established itself as one of the most important in the world for airplane makers.
Airlines and leasing firms aren’t the only buyers here this week. Billions of dollars worth of business jets and helicopters have been sold as well, with all of the major manufacturers reaping the rewards of booming economies and relaxed policies toward trade and business ownership across the oil-rich region. One of the biggest benefactors has been Sikorsky, which sold 50 helicopters to the governments of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Show organizers hope the massive Dubai World Central building project will be sufficiently far along to allow the show to move there when it’s next held in 2009. The new site offers twice as much space–given the pace of growth in the region and a seemingly insatiable appetite for new aircraft, organizers will likely need every square meter of it.