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Emirates announces USD26 billion deal

Dubai Air Show 2011 far from succumbing to economic worries

Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN Uganda  Nov 14, 2011

(eTN) - The bi-annual Dubai Air Show started off with a bang yesterday, when Emirates announced a record breaking firm order for 50 B777-300ER and a further 20 options, which if exercised – as expected – would catapult the value of the deal to about US$26 billion.

The airline already operates 94 of the world’s second largest passenger planes, after the giant Airbus A380, and has another 41 in the delivery pipeline. The B777 can reach literally any point on the globe from Emirates’ hub in Dubai nonstop and is the backbone aircraft in the fleet on all those routes where their fast-growing A380 fleet is too large to make commercial sense.

Current orders are due to be completed by 2015, and the new deal, which incidentally makes it Boeing’s best ever year, after 2005, for sales of the B777, will commence seamlessly thereafter.

The next “biggie” expected at the Dubai Air Show, which this year will be held for the last time at Dubai International Airport, aka DXB, is the much-awaited announcement by Qatar Airways’ (QR) Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker, with speculation over just the size of a follow on order for the Airbus A380, not the fact itself. The new mega airport in Doha is by the admission of Al Baker, made at a recent meeting in Kampala during the launch of daily flights between Doha and Entebbe, built “around the A380,” the only airport, in fact, claiming this accolade, and subsequently QR is expected to substantially increase the pending orders for the A380, though not thought to be an immediate match for Emirates’ order of 90 overall.

The Dubai Air Show in 2013, to be held at the brand-new Dubai World Central, or “DWC” airport in Jebel Ali, has also once again highlighted the growing divide between the optimistic if not visionary carriers based in the Gulf region, led by Emirates in terms of size and by Qatar Airways in terms of global quality – Sky Trax pronounced “QR” as the world’s top airline in their last annual survey – compared to the gloom and doom talk among North American carriers where “Chapter 11” talk persists once again, or the airlines in Europe which are struggling with congested airports, congested skies and regulatory regimes and governments making aviation an almost daily struggle.

Targeted by a new range of “eco taxes,” which are nothing else but a blatant attempt to siphon money out of passenger’s and airlines’ pockets, restricted by night time landing and takeoff rules, for instance slapped on the new 4th runway in Frankfurt the moment it was opened, are making the fullest use of the expensive fleets an ever more difficult proposition, and the Gulf states of the UAE and of Qatar are making the most and the best out of their rivals’ predicaments and are stepping up the ante with yet more aircraft orders.

As said here before, this is nothing short of a major re-alignment of market shares and of economics of both scale and capacity use, since the new mega airports in the Gulf area suffer no flying restrictions, allowing the best utilization of the newest and most technologically-advanced fleets found anywhere in the world.

Dubai Air Show 2011 far from succumbing to economic worries
Aerial display over the skies of Dubai – part of the bi-annual Dubai Air Show

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