Dubai Airshow

Air Arabia Neo Deal Caps Dubai’s Order Activity

 - November 18, 2019, 7:14 AM
Air Arabia Group Chief Executive Officer of Air Arabia Adel Al Ali (left, foreground) and Airbus chief commercial officer Christian Scherer (right, foreground) prepare to sign an order covering 120 A320neos. (Photo: Airbus)

An order for 50 Airbus A350-900s from Emirates Airline might have proved the most intriguing show development of the day Monday if not for a deal announced a couple of hours later involving 120 A320neos for Air Arabia. The contract with the Sharjah-based low-cost carrier, encompassing 73 A320neos, 27 A321neos, and 20 A321XLRs worth $14 billion at list prices, itself came minutes before Boeing revealed what it considers a critical endorsement for the 737 Max—the conversion of options on 10 Max 8s from Turkish and German leisure airline SunExpress. That deal, worth $1.2 billion at list prices, added to a previous firm order for 32 Max 8s. Sun Express CEO Jens Bischof and Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal declined to specify plans for delivery timing. 

In announcing what would be the day’s only widebody deal, for the A350s, Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum reported that the $16 billion Airbus order would replace a memorandum of understanding signed in February for 30 A350s and 40 A330neos. The new contract calls for deliveries to start in 2023 and continue into 2028.

While declining to elaborate on the disposition of the A330neo commitment, Sheikh Ahmed also conceded that Emirates might not have completely fulfilled its needs in the A350’s size category and confirmed continued discussions with Boeing on a possible firm order for 787 Dreamliners. Emirates signed an MOU covering 40 Boeing 787-10s during the 2017 Dubai Air Show. 

Sheikh Ahmed also addressed a question on the status of the Boeing 777Xs on order, confirming that he and executives from Boeing will continue to discuss possibilities at the show. Emirates has placed an order for 150 of the widebodies, but CEO Tim Clark has expressed displeasure over a delay in the airplane’s planned entry into service availability. Emirates had planned to take delivery of the first airplane next June. Engine-related snags have delayed expected first delivery until early 2021.