New sales back down to earth at Dubai airshow

New sales back down to earth at Dubai airshow

DUBAI – Agence France-Presse
New sales back down to earth at Dubai airshow

AP photo

The Dubai Airshow took off yesterday to a slow start amid expectations for a record low in sales as the Gulf’s main airlines have already placed large orders with major manufacturers.

“Due to large previous orders, the total show order tally this year will be much less than years prior,” said Ben Moores, senior analyst at IHS Aerospace, Defense & Security.

Organizers say the last edition of Dubai Airshow generated business of up to $200 billion (185 billion euros), with orders for planes in the first few hours topping $162.6 billion, beating the show’s previous record of $155 billion set in 2007.

But this year’s show might have a “record set for lack of sales,” Moores said.

There is currently an order backlog of 750 widebody aircrafts for the Gulf region, so it is unlikely that further orders will be made, he said.

Over 1,100 exhibitors from more than 60 countries are taking part in the biennial fair.

They include major aircraft makers Airbus and Boeing, which continue to compete for a larger chunk of orders from the ever-growing air travel sector in the Gulf region.

Dubai’s Emirates along with Abu Dhabi’s Etihad and Qatar Airways - the Gulf Three - already have a long list of orders placed with the U.S. and European rivals, Boeing and Airbus.

Some of those carriers have made it clear that they do not intend to make major announcements at Dubai Airshow.

James Hogan, the chief of Abu Dhabi’s fast-growing Etihad, said earlier this year that his company has made enough orders to cover its expansion plans to 2040.

The airline took delivery in December of the first unit of 10 Airbus superjumbo A380 planes ordered, as well as the first of 72 units of Boeing’s long-haul 787 planes.

Emirates Airline, the largest operator of A380 and Boeing’s 777 widebody, last year finalized an order for 150 new 777 planes, valued at $56 billion at list prices.

Boeing said earlier this month that the Middle East region will require 3,180 planes over the next 20 years, worth $730 billion.

“About 80 percent of the world population lives within an eight-hour flight” from the Gulf region, said Randy Tinseth, vice president for marketing at Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

The Gulf carriers have established their home airports as major hubs for transcontinental travel, drawing accusations from European and American carriers of subsidies giving them unfair competitive advantage.