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Boeing has had a relatively difficult time of it in the Middle East in recent years, coming off second best in some pretty massive deals. Could that all be about to change, however?

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By  David Ingham Published  May 15, 2006

|~||~||~|Boeing has had a relatively difficult time of it in the Middle East in recent years. Whether it was politicised purchasing decisions, being ‘out-marketed’ by Airbus or even the products themselves, the US plane maker has been through a long period where it has come off second best in some pretty massive deals. Could that all be about to change, however? The 787 is off to a fantastic start globally, the designs of Airbus’ crucial A350 and A340-600 models are being questioned and Boeing’s recent establishment of a regional office means it is now better represented on the ground in the Middle East. The first sign that the tide could be turning for Boeing in the region came last year when Emirates awarded the US plane maker a US $9.7 billion order for 42 Boeing 777s. It’s just not just a question of deals that have actually been awarded, however. Also prominent in the minds of aviation industry watchers are orders that were supposed to happen, but didn’t, or may be coming up. Last year, for example, it was widely believed that Emirates would place a massive order for Airbus’ A350. No announcement has yet been made, however, and speculation is now mounting that the mega carrier is seriously considering Boeing’s 787 instead. There are also whispers that Saudia is set to begin its first fleet upgrade programme in two decades and that Boeing is in the driving seat. None of this really matters, of course, unless Boeing starts winning these major deals and Airbus is not going to simply stand by and let that happen. Take Emirates’ order for the A340-600, for example. Whilst a delay in the deal is a setback for Airbus, the order has not been cancelled outright: It has, according to Emirates, simply been delayed whilst it seeks changes to the plane’s design. It could be a similar story with the A350. Is Emirates really leaning towards the 787, or is it just haggling for better pricing and/or design changes on the A350? At this stage, we do not know the answers. Whether or not the tide of regional airline orders is swinging back in Boeing’s favour will be only be seen in the coming months when carriers start to place their orders. All eyes will now be on Farnborough in July.||**||

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