Middle East airlines may have hit tougher times but their appetite for new planes enabled Airbus to this week make a splash at the Dubai Air Show with orders for 170 aircraft listing at roughly $US30 billion.
The European manufacturer and Emirates signed a purchase agreement for 50 A350-900s powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines.
The last-minute announcement was the outcome of a proposed deal revealed at the start of the year for 40 A330neo aircraft and 30 A350 jets.
While it boosted the number of A350s it will take, Emirates is understood to be no longer pursuing the A330neos.
Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said the firm order followed a thorough review of various aircraft options and its fleet plans.
He described the order as reflecting the carrier’s confidence in the future of the United Arab Emirates’ aviation sector “and a strong affirmation of Dubai’s strategy to be global nexus”.
“It is Emirates’ long-standing strategy to invest in modern and efficient aircraft, and we are confident in the performance of the A350 XWB,’’ he said in a statement.
“Complementing our A380s and 777s, the A350s will give us added operational flexibility in terms of capacity, range and deployment.
“In effect, we are strengthening our business model to provide efficient and comfortable air transport services to, and through, our Dubai hub.”
A second order for 120 A320 family aircraft from Air Arabia comprised 73 A320neos, 27 A321neos and 20 A321XLRs.
Air Arabia chief executive Adel Al Ali said the airline’s fleet growth strategy was driven by commercial demand and the announcement for one of the region’s biggest single-aisle orders with Airbus would support those plans.
“This new milestone underpins not only our solid financial fundamentals but also the strength of our multi-hub growth strategy that we have adopted over the years while remaining focused on efficiency, performance and passenger experience,’’ he said.
“The addition of the A320neo, A321neo and A321XLR complements our existing fleet and allows us to expand our service to farther and newer destinations while remaining loyal to our low-cost business model.”
Separately, Boeing announced leisure carrier SunExpress would exercise options for 10 additional Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft for fleet renewal and growth.
The purchase, valued at $US1.2 billion at list prices, adds to a previous SunExpress order for 32 MAX jets.
Airlines receive significant discounts on the list price.