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Boeing raises stakes at airshow

Boeing and Airbus both emerged with multi-billion dollar deals following last week’s airshow in Dubai.

Boeing and Airbus both emerged with multi-billion dollar deals following last week’s airshow in Dubai.

Emirates Airline placed the largest order for Boeing aircraft to date, signing up for 42 Boeing 777 planes. The Dubai-based carrier also has purchase rights for further 20 777s as part of the US$9.7 billion deal. The order consists of 24 Boeing 777-300ERs, 10 777-200LR Worldliners and eight 777 Freighters, with the first aircraft scheduled for delivery in 2007.

The deal was signed by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, chairman of Emirates and Jim McNerney, Boeing’s president, chairman and CEO, on the first day of the 9th International Aerospace Exhibition.

Sheikh Ahmed and General Electric’s vice chairman David Calhoun also inked a US$2 billion deal, which will see the UAE flag carrier purchase GE90-115B jet engines, the most powerful in the world, for all the Boeing 777s included in the Emirates order.

“We are investing in more new aircraft to meet the escalating demand for Emirates’ services from our customers across the globe,” said Sheikh Ahmed after signing the deal. “This new order will support the airline’s growth plans, and enhance our fleet’s range and versatility,” he added.

Emirates intends to use the 777 to extend and strengthen its routes to key cities in Europe and Asia, and to operate in new markets. The 777-200LR, which recently broke the world distance record for a commercial airliner, will allow the airline to explore new destinations including non-stop flights to cities on the west coast of the United States.

“Global air travel demand has been resilient, with particularly strong growth in the Middle East region and Asia, where burgeoning economies have led to vigorous trade and tourism exchanges,” explained Sheikh Ahmed. “Having an advanced and efficient fleet of aircraft will allow Emirates to tap into the opportunities presented by this environment, and allow us to continue providing customers with faster air connections and superior travel comfort,” he added.

Boeing claims that air traffic in the region will expand at a rate of 5.5% per annum over the next 20 years. And Alan Mulally, Boeing’s Commercial president and CEO said he was pleased that Emirates chose Boeing 777 family to meet these needs.

“We are excited to witness how the airline will benefit from the superior economics of the 777,” he said.

While Boeing secured US$9.7 billion worth of orders at the show, its European rival Airbus received bookings for 65 of its planes.

Regionally, Jazeera Airways, Kuwait’s new, privately owned airline, signed up for six further Airbus A320s, taking its total orders for the model to ten.

Meanwhile, ALAFCO, the Kuwait-based international aircraft leasing company, has signed a contract for 12 Airbus A350s with options on six more, reaffirming the commitment it announced in June. At the airshow, Noël Forgeard, co-CEO of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) — the parent firm of Airbus — revealed that the Toulouse-based aircraft manufacturer has orders worth US$245.75 billion to deliver over the next six years.

Forgeard also hit back at claims that Airbus uses political influence in the region to gain orders at the expense of its American rival. He said defence contracts involved political decisions but denied the same was true of commercial deals.

“I don’t think Middle Eastern airlines make choices based on politics,” Forgeard told Arabian Business. “I don’t see companies here playing any type of political game — it just happens that for years that A380 was the only such plane in development but the fact that many regional carriers places orders for it had nothing to do with politics,” he added.

See Noël Forgeard interview on page 30

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