Boeing presented at the Dubai Air Show

PAfter a wave of closures due to Covid, the global air show cycle is regaining its rhythm with, in even years, London-Farnborough and Singapore, and in odd years, Paris-Le Bourget at the beginning of summer and Dubai in the fall. The latter vintage of 2023, which is being held at the Dubai World Center at the airport until Friday, promises, and in particular marks the return aircraft orders by the Gulf countries barely cooled by the current instability around Gaza.

According to tradition, the ball is opened by the guest of honor. But this time the host – Emirates – set the tone by announcing a huge order for 90 long-haul Boeing 777Xs and 5 B787 Dreamliners that will eventually replace its Airbus A380. At the same time, the Emirati company signed contracts with Safran for the supply of French-made seats, landing gear and brakes, and with Thales for its in-flight entertainment system. Tim Clark, Emirates boss who complained about five years of delays Boeing 777X program, would not finalize the order for the Airbus A350-1000 until engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce improved the maintenance program for its Trent XWB-97 engine. The time between each audit is considered too short, which affects operational costs. Emirates, however, has signed another 15 A350-900 aircraft (50 are already on order), which are equipped with a different engine.

The Gulf is smiling on Boeing, which has ordered 30 B787-9s from Flydubai, another Emirati company that, like Emirates, is chaired by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the local aviation chief. Until then, low-cost Flydubai served with 80 B737s on intermediate routes, mainly in Africa and near Asia. With the B787, the carrier changes gears and can have rights to a global network which, however, can only be complementary to Emirates’ network.

Return of the 737 MAX to Ethiopian Airlines

These orders from local operators somewhat overshadowed the confirmation of an order by Royal Air Maroc for 2 Boeing 787-9s, previously registered with Boeing in its orders for “undefined” customers, and in particular the Sun Express low-cost contract for 45 Boeing 737-8 MAX aircraft , with options for five additional aircraft and the right to purchase forty more. Flying under the Turkish flag, this Lufthansa-Turkish Airlines joint venture has a strong presence in Eastern Europe. Kazakhstan’s SCAT Airlines announced an order for seven Boeing 737-8s.

Almost five years after the crash of one of its 737-8 MAX and the immobilization of the world fleet, Ethiopian Airlines has renewed its confidence in the aircraft after verification and confirmation that Boeing has fully corrected the design flaw, the company said, placing an order for 20 Boeing 737-8 MAXs as well as 11 Boeing long-haul aircraft. 787 -9 Dreamliner. It is likely that China will authorize its airlines to reorder the B737 MAX.

As for Airbus, airBaltic announced an order for 30 additional Airbus A220-300s on Monday, during the first day of the Dubai Airshow. This additional contract brings the airline’s firm order book to 80 aircraft. Making it the largest A220-300 operator in the world.

Ethiopian Airlines has signed a memorandum of understanding for 11 additional A350-900s to be added to its existing fleet or in the delivery phase of 22 aircraft. “With this commitment, it confirms its position as the first African customer of the A350,” Airbus points out. EgyptAir has confirmed a firm order with Airbus for ten A350-900 wide-body aircraft, which have already appeared on the European plane maker’s book under the “undefined customers” section.

Regional aircraft manufacturer ATR has signed a memorandum of understanding for a firm order for 10 ATR 72-600s, with an option for ten additional aircraft, with lessor Abel. The Gulf countries are not good customers for regional aircraft due to the lack of a geographical structure unsuitable for this type of aviation.

The deal of the century

The long-awaited Turkish Airlines contract for several hundred aircraft to become one of the leaders in air transport, equal to the Gulf companies, has progressed and is subject to an agreement in principle. According to the state-run Anadolu news agency, the Turkish company confirmed holding a meeting with Airbus – attended by Guillaume Faury, executive chairman of the European aircraft manufacturer – about the contents of the largest order in the carrier’s history. These are 75 long-haul A350-900 and 15 A350-1000 aircraft, five A350F, in the cargo version, as well as 250 medium-haul A321neo aircraft. In yet another announcement, this time to the Taipei Stock Exchange, Taiwan’s Eva Air announced its intention to order 18 A350-1000s and 15 A321neos to replace part of its Boeing 777-300ER fleet with its European competitor, Airbus.

Engine manufacturers are not left out. Thus, CFM International (Safran-General Electric joint venture) received an order from Air Arabia. The UAE low-cost airline has ordered 240 engines from the Franco-American equipment manufacturer to equip its future fleet of 120 Airbus A320 NEO family, to be delivered from 2025. CFM was a competitor to Pratt & Whitney.

Chubby order books

Before the Dubai Motor Show, Airbus had 1,280 year-to-date orders and Boeing had 965. The total order book for the two giants has now reached 14,000 aircraft for delivery, or more than eleven years of production at the current rate.

In its forecasts, published ahead of the Paris Air Show last June, Airbus predicts a doubling of the commercial aircraft fleet over the next twenty years, from 22,880 aircraft today to 46,560 in 2042.

According to Boeing, 65% of the orders would respond to traffic growth and 15% to fleet renewal.

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