The 2013 Dubai Airshow has once again underscored Middle East airlines’ growing importance in the global air transport marketplace, as well as the Airbus jetliner product line’s ability to meet their needs in both passenger and cargo operations.
With a clearly upbeat atmosphere at this week’s biennial aerospace gathering, carriers from the region made headlines by placing orders valued at billions of dollars – which also marked endorsements for the full range of Airbus commercial aircraft.
Emirates Airline’s contract for 50 more A380s provides additional aircraft to expand its route coverage and for aircraft replacement, bringing the total number of A380s ordered by this Dubai-based carrier to 140.
“The A380 is a hugely popular airplane, and people go out of their way to fly it,” explained Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airline. “I continue to be impressed how the A380 attracts attention, whether at the world’s airports or during events such as the Dubai Airshow – people can’t wait to get aboard the aircraft.”
Tom Williams, the Airbus Executive Vice President - Programmes, said this latest order is another demonstration of Emirates’ confidence in the A380, while also contributing to Airbus’ management of its forward production and industrial scheduling for the very large jetliner.
Etihad Airways’ booking for 87 Airbus jetliners announced at the Dubai Airshow involves the A320 and A350 XWB families along with the A330F freighter, providing capacity for this Abu Dhabi-headquartered carrier in launching new routes, increasing frequencies on its existing network and replacing older aircraft. James Hogan, the Etihad Airways President and Chief Executive Officer, said the aircraft covered by this contract will begin arriving in 2018, and the airline also placed options and purchase rights for another 30 aircraft.
An important new endorsement for Airbus’ A330-200F came from Qatar Airways’ firm order for five freighters, along with eight options. This will enable the A330-200F to become the backbone of Qatar Airways’ freighter fleet, according to CEO Akbar Al Baker.
Just as these three major Gulf operators have successfully used Airbus aircraft while developing into world-class carriers, the pattern is ready to be repeated as the latest Middle East new-start carrier – Libyan Wings – has chosen the A350 XWB and A320 to build up its route network. Libyan Wings’ service entry is planned for early next year, using two leased A320s.