Airbus wins top billing in Dubai Airshow deals

DUBAI: With Boeing embroiled in the 737 MAX crisis, Airbus has emerged as the star of the Dubai Airshow, sealing two mammoth sales to Emirates and Air Arabia bolstered by a number of smaller deals.

However, Boeing secured one firm sale and another “letter of intent” for its 737 MAX aircraft, in what analysts said was much-needed support for the model that was grounded in March following two fatal crashes.

Here is a breakdown of the deals: 

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– Emirates Airline –

Dubai-based Emirates Airline said it would buy 50 Airbus 350-900 widebody aircraft in a deal worth $16 billion, with delivery to begin in May 2023. 

The airline, the largest in the Middle East, is reorganising its fleet after cutting orders of the A380 superjumbo, which airlines have struggled to fill to its capacity of 500-850 people. 

Emirates has a whopping 271 large aircraft, including 113 Airbus A380 superjumbos and 158 Boeing 777 planes.

The agreement replaces an earlier plan to buy 30 A350s and 40 A330neos in a deal worth $21.4 billion, but Emirates said that discussions on purchasing the A330neos could still be revived.

– Air Arabia – 

Air Arabia, a low-cost carrier based in the United Arab Emirates, said it would buy 120 Airbus A320s in an order worth $14 billion that will triple its fleet.

It currently operates 53 Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft and will move ahead with plans to add new routes to its network, which includes 170 destinations.

Air Arabia last month announced an agreement with Abu Dhabi-based giant Etihad Airways to launch a new low-cost airline based in the UAE capital, to be known as Air Arabia Abu Dhabi.

– SunExpress –

Turkish carrier SunExpress ordered 10 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The deal was for a relatively modest $1.2 billion, but it represented “the first firm order” for the plane since it was taken out of service in March.

The sale comes on top of a previous SunExpress order for 32 of the aircraft. 

“We have full confidence that Boeing will deliver us a safe, reliable and efficient aircraft,” the airline’s CEO Jens Bischof said.

“However, it goes without saying that this requires the undisputed airworthiness of the model, granted by all relevant authorities.”

– Air Astana –

Boeing won another boost with Kazakhstan’s flag carrier Air Astana, saying the airline planned to buy 30 of the 737 MAX, with the “letter of intent” to be finalised in coming months.

Boeing said the planes would “serve as the backbone” of Air Astana’s new low-cost carrier FlyArystan.

“We believe that the MAX will provide a solid platform for the growth of FlyArystan throughout our region, once the aircraft has successfully returned to service,” said Air Astana President Peter Foster.

The last commercial landmark for the troubled model was in June when Boeing secured a letter of intent by British Airways parent IAG to buy 200 of the planes.

– Air Senegal –

Air Senegal said it had signed a memorandum of understanding to purchase eight of Airbus’s new A220 — the single-aisle aircraft formerly known as the Bombardier C Series jet.

“These new 220 aircrafts will contribute to develop our long-haul network to Europe and our regional network in Africa,” the national carrier’s CEO Ibrahima Kane said.

– Flynas – 

Riyadh-based budget carrier Flynas, which is looking to expand in the growing Saudi domestic market, also opted for Airbus with an order for the narrow-body A320.

“We are very pleased to announce a firm order of 10 A321 aircraft,” said Bandar al-Mohanna, the CEO of the airline, which is adding routes in South Asia and the Middle East.

Flynas also plans to open a hub in West Africa or the Balkans within five years to expand beyond the domestic market, its chief executive reportedly said earlier this year.

– EasyJet –

Europe’s second biggest budget airline ordered 12 Airbus A320neo narrow-body jetliners, but pushed back another set of deliveries and reined in more immediate expansion plans, Bloomberg News reported. 

EasyJet converted options to firm purchases for the A320neo planes worth $1.33 billion at list prices, it said.

– Ghana –

Ghana signed a memorandum of understanding to purchase three Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners at a list price of $877.5 million for a new national airline to be launched in the country.

“We believe the advanced 787-9 Dreamliner gives us an efficient and flexible machine to launch a regional network and eventually serve international destinations in the future,” said Ghana’s aviation minister Joseph Kofi Adda.

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