Mon, Nov 13, 2017 - Page 16 News List

US$15bn Boeing purchase opens the Dubai Airshow


Participants walk past drones displayed during the Dubai Airshow yesterday in the United Arab Emirates.

Photo: AFP

The Dubai Airshow, which is held every two years, yesterday opened with hometown long-haul carrier Emirates Airline buying US$15.1 billion worth of Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners, as the world’s biggest defense companies promoted their weapons amid heightened tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Other airlines also are taking part, but missing from the trade show this year is one of the region’s largest long-haul carriers, Qatar Airways Ltd, amid diplomatic fallout between Qatar and four Arab nations.

The Boeing announcement came after over an hour-and-a-half of delays by Emirates amid rumors of a possible Airbus sale involving its A380 aircraft, a major workhorse for the airline. Journalists asked Emirates chairman and chief executive officer Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum about Boeing’s European competitor Airbus, specifically its A350.

“We were comparing the two apples,” he said, but found that the Boeing 787 is “the best option” for Emirates “given its maintenance and so on.”

The Boeing 787-10 typically lists for US$312.8 million. Delivery is to begin in 2022.

Chicago-based Boeing Co already has 171 787-10s on order. Among those waiting for the aircraft is Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways PJSC. Boeing builds the 787 at its plant in North Charleston, South Carolina.

The air show comes as the Qatar dispute is now in its fifth month with no resolution in sight. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar in June over its ties with Iran and its support of Islamist groups, accusing the small Gulf state of supporting extremists, charges it denies. The Arab quartet cut direct flights with Qatar and closed their airspace to Qatari aircraft.

Qatar Airways had previously played a big role in the Dubai Airshow, reserving a large pavilion and displaying its latest aircraft to visitors.

At the start of the air show, Dubai-based Emirates, the Middle East’s largest carrier, unveiled new, state-of-the-art, first-class private suites.

In an industry first, passenger suites in the middle aisle without windows are to be fitted with “virtual windows” relaying the sky outside via fiber optic cameras on the plane. There is also a video call feature in the suites that connects passengers to the cabin crew, as well as temperature control and various mood lighting settings.

Emirates president Tim Clark declined to say how much a ticket in the 3.7m2 private suite will cost. The private suites are to be available on the airline’s Boeing 777.

In previous years, major Middle East carriers have flexed their spending power at the airshow, including US$140 billion in new orders announced in 2013 before the collapse of oil prices. Prices have rebounded recently to around US$60 a barrel.

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