Skift Take

The most important airshow in the Middle East will see airlines from the UAE and Saudi Arabia trying to grab the best aircraft delivery slots for their growth plans. Airlines from India will also be there to do business.

The 18th Dubai Airshow is upon us, and this year’s is setting up as a contest between UAE and Saudi Arabia – which country will order more aircraft? 

Skift will be covering the event at the Dubai World Centre Airport from November 13 to 17. The 2021 airshow was the first major one after the Covid-19 pandemic and had 104,000 attendees. 

One thing we’ll be tracking is commercial orders from at least 5 big buyers. 

Emirates: All eyes will be on Emirates, but there are no orders in the pipeline from it yet. The airline already has a large number of Boeing 787/777X and Airbus A350 orders outstanding, but it might be out shopping for cargo aircraft. 

Given the build-up in the region, with Saudi Arabia now investing heavily in its aviation sector, Emirates might open its checkbook to protect its turf. 

FlyDubai: However, FlyDubai, a regional carrier, might be ready with an announcement. CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith had indicated earlier that they would place an order in Q4 2023. The airline already has 137 737 MAX aircraft pending delivery from Boeing. However, it would perhaps like to plan for a longer-term pipeline, given that some OEMs are sold out on their narrowbody capacity through 2030. 

Riyadh Air: Saudi Arabia’s newest airline, Riyadh Air, might have some announcements to make at the airshow. The airline has already announced an order of 39 Boeing 787-9 aircraft with options for another 33. CEO Tony Douglas has discussed a sizeable narrowbody order, estimated at up to 400 aircraft in industry circles. 

Akasa Air: Indian carriers are the next in line to announce some aircraft commitments. Akasa Air had ordered 72 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in the 2021 edition of the airshow. Founder and CEO Vinay Dube has talked openly about a “triple-digit order” before the end of the year, and DAS is the perfect place to put an announcement out. The airline needs to order now to protect its growth if it wants to become a real competitor to IndiGo.

IndiGo: IndiGo has been running assessments on a widebody order and may also go ahead with its order. However, it is hard to say if the A330neo will win the contest or if Boeing would have convinced IndiGo to look at the 787 for their widebody order. The airline has been an Airbus customer since its inception but recently inducted two 777s on damp lease from Turkish Airlines to support flights to Istanbul. 

Amongst other airlines that may consider aircraft orders are Flyadeal, a Saudia subsidiary and a low-cost airline. 

Boeing and Airbus: A massive assortment of aircraft on display

The Dubai Airshow is also known to attract a large number of aircraft on display from both airlines and manufacturers, including Boeing, Airbus, Embraer, Gulfstream. 

Airbus will bring an assortment of aircraft, including the A321neo, A321P2F (passenger to freighter), A330neo and an ACJ 220 on display. The ACJ is a private jet that is based on the A220 platform. 

Boeing will have the 787-9 and the 777-9 on display. The 777X will also participate in the flying display at the airshow. Embraer will bring its E195-E2 on display in the new Tech Eagle livery. 

Various airlines will bring their suite of aircraft products on display as well. Home airline Emirates will showcase its full family of aircraft, consisting of its latest retrofitted A380, game-changer Boeing 777-300ER and the aircraft used by Emirates Flight Training Academy. The Embraer Phenom 100 charter jet will also be on display. 

Etihad will bring the 787-9, while FlyDubai will display its 737-8 product. Maldives’s recently founded premium-leisure airline, Beond, will also showcase its all-business class A319. 

Riyadh Air, which plans to have a dual-livery scheme and revealed one of its liveries earlier this year, will likely use the platform offered by the Dubai Airshow to reveal the second livery for the carrier. 

Saudia will bring a Boeing 787-10 in its latest livery, and Flyadeal will position an A320neo for the static display. Indian carrier Air India Express, which recently underwent extensive rebranding and counts the Middle East as its most important market, will also display a 737-8 aircraft. 

Qatar Airways’ Return to the Dubai Airshow

Marking its return to the airshow this year will be Qatar Airways, which will bring its A350-1000 and 787-9 for the static display. The airline was missing during the embargo placed by its neighbors on Qatar. However, its erstwhile CEO, Akbar Al-Baker, will be missing from the airshow. 

Apart from this, the airshow will be peppered with flying displays by commercial and military aircraft from across the globe. eVTOL developers such as Archer Aviation and Bellwether Industries will also showcase their latest developments at the airshow. 

One of the key announcements that we may get more insights into at DAS could be about the investment of the NEOM Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia in Boom Supersonic.  Boom Supersonic, which intends to bring back supersonic commercial flights, announced that it had achieved multiple milestones across the Overture airliner, Symphony engine, and XB-1 supersonic demonstrator programs just hours ago.


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Tags: airbus, akasa air, Boeing, dubai, Dubai Airshow, emirates, flydubai, gulfstream, indigo, middle east, Riyadh Air

Photo credit: Dubai Airshow 2021 Dubai Airshow

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