If you had been to any of the previous three Dubai Airshows and then you came here, you’d come to believe you arrived in a different era altogether. A good look at the airshow and you’d see more people coming in, but the number of orders that we witnessed on day one were not even a single-digit percentage of the earlier years.
In 2017, the Dubai Airshow started with a pre-press conference at 8 am with Tim Clark of Emirates taking centre stage and talking about the big plans of Emirates. He followed it up with announcing a big order of 40 Boeing 787-10s, an order which is still not finalised, while Emirates completes a fleet review and the 777X programme runs delayed. Deals worth about $114 billion were made at the Dubai Airshow 2017.
In 2019, the Dubai Airshow, on the other hand, started with cancelled press-conferences, and the only announcements of note being made from the Embraer family and Da Havilland Canada, the new owners of the Q400 programme (which is a part of SpiceJet’s fleet). These announcements were largely earlier options being converted into firm orders.
The 2019 airshow comes with the crisis being the talk of the town. The 737MAX, of which FlyDubai is a big customer, is missing while it prepares for return to service in the USA. The 777X programme, of which middle-eastern airlines are the biggest customers as they prepare for a post A380 world, is also running about a full year behind schedule. Not just that, Boeing has cut down the 787 production rate from 14 per month to 12 recently.
At the Boeing display, the 737 range is displayed with a 737 Freighter, not a passenger aircraft. Of course, Airbus is not even trying to sell narrow body aircraft at this airshow.
In the light of all of these events, Boeing took to the mantle to present their Commercial Market Outlook. The presentation started with a solemn apology from Randy Tinseth, the VP Marketing for Boeing Commercial Aircraft, for the events of the 737 MAX. He then went on to present the outlook, with a prediction that the Middle East would need 3130 new airliners over the next two decades. The value of these aircraft was placed at $725 billion, apart from commercial services and support worth $790 billion.
Randy Tinseth, the VP Marketing for Boeing Commercial Aircraft, has predictd that the Middle East would need 3,130 new airliners over the next two decades.
Airbus had similar GDP and passenger growth numbers to Boeing in its Global Market Forecast for the next twenty years. Bob Lange, Airbus Head of Business Analysis and Market Forecast, said that the UAE would see a requirement for 1,730 aircraft by 2038, compared to its present total of around 630. This would consist of 750 small category aircraft, and 980 medium and large aircraft (not including the A380, which will be discontinued). He mentioned that while the A380 programme was going to be discontinued, we would see the aircraft in the skies for many decades ahead of us. Airbus’s Lange also predicted that a lot of the growth would come from India, with UAE-India traffic growing 3.8 times in the next 20 years, Saudi Arabia-India traffic growing 3.5 times, Qatar-India growing 3.8 times and Oman-India traffic growth at 3.3 times the current traffic.
Embraer's confirmed sale
But the real dealflow came in from Embraer. Embraer made a confirmed sale of three E195-E2 jets to Nigerian Air Peace, as a follow-on from their earlier order of ten aircraft in April 2019. Deliveries are scheduled from 2020 onwards.
The de Havilland Aircraft of Canada, which is the new owner of the Bombardier Q400 programme, also announced that the company had signed a firm purchase agreement for three Dash 8-400s from Elin Group, which is again based in Nigeria.
As the day came to a close, there came news of Boeing having placed two 787-9 aircraft to Bangladesh’s national airline Biman. However, these were not new orders, rather those already placed in October 2019 under the name of an unnamed buyer, and so the only news around here was the reveal of the name. Similarly, for Airbus, they managed to place two aircraft with Salam Air, on lease from GECAS.
A lot of services deals were, however, in the works. On Day two of the airshow, let’s wait to see what is up and coming. Bloomberg reports that SpiceJet may be looking for an order of the MAX, but who knows how long these things take to finalise. Look out for my next update tomorrow.
Ajay Awtaney is a business travel & aviation journalist based in Mumbai, and the founder of the Indian frequent-traveller website Live From A Lounge ( www.livefromalounge.com ) Ajay flies over 200,000 miles every year, and tweets about The Business of Travel at @LiveFromALounge .