DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
U.S.-based Boeing Co. dominated on the first day of the Dubai Airshow, netting $100 billion in orders at an event that showcased the spending power and aggressive expansion efforts of the Middle East’s Gulf Arab carriers.
The 342 orders represented more than twice the value of those seen by European rival Airbus, which said it took 142 orders worth some $40 billion.
The massive commitments came from just four carriers in the tiny nations of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, which are in a race to create more jobs for their own citizens and diversify their oil-dependent economies.
“In recent years, much of the action in global aviation has shifted to the Middle East because countries like the U.A.E. and Qatar have tapped into our geographical advantage to build a new air transport connection for the world,” Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Emirates and the smaller flydubai, told reporters.
Of the major Gulf Arab carriers, Dubai-based Emirates airline flexed its buying power the hardest, with orders for 150 of the planned Boeing 777X at a combined price tag of $55.6 billion.
The aircraft is a larger and more fuel-efficient model of the company’s popular 777 wide-body.
Boeing CEO James McNerney Jr. called it part of the “largest product launch in commercial jetliner history.”
The airline also announced orders for 50 Airbus A380s — the main competition for the 777X. Airbus says the planned purchase is listed at $23 billion.
The Dubai Airshow is seen as an increasingly important barometer on the state of the aviation industry and the rising roles of the big-spending Gulf carriers Etihad, Qatar Airways, Emirates and flydubai as they compete for routes and critical stopover traffic between Asia and Europe and the Americas.