The ninth international aerospace exhibition, Dubai 2005, which began yesterday, is expected to witness a record number of announcements and deals involving more than 100 firm orders and commitments, aviation sources said.
With 726 exhibitors from 46 countries and 15 national pavilions taking part, the show is also poised to be a crucial battleground for the world's two leading aircraft manufacturers, Boeing and Airbus, in their race for supremacy.
Qatar Airways, which earlier signed a letter of intent for 60 A350s and 20 Boeing 777s, is expected to formalize them to firm orders, pending final adjustments.
Emirates is likely to top up its existing order book of US$27 billion with new orders ranging from 20 to 30 Boeing 777s, the longest-range airliner in the world, sources said.
Additional orders are expected from the region's six business-jet operators.
Emirates and Qatar Airways, the two fastest growing airlines, are expected to steal the limelight at the Middle East's largest aerospace exhibition that concludes on Thursday.
David Velupillai, Airbus regional press manager, told local newspaper Gulf News that "there are a number of announcements that our customers will make official at the air show. I can not say anything beyond that."
Qatar Airways would be one of them, he said.
"There will be some announcements by two major players. I cannot comment beyond that," said another official, requesting anonymity.
Major announcements are expected to be wrapped up within the first three days of the five-day event. Boeing leads this year's aircraft order book with 657 firm orders and commitments while Airbus is trailing with 499.
Airbus, which will deliver 360 aircraft by the end of this year, on Saturday announced 10 new orders for the A318 with Jeddah-based National Air Services, a deal worth US$450 million at the list price.
Boeing will end the current year with 290 deliveries, down by 30 from its initially planned 320 deliveries, because of a strike at its manufacturing plant. This will be the third year Airbus has led the industry in the number of deliveries.
The air show will also witness the regional debut of several business and defense aircraft.
Civil aviation chiefs, airline presidents, ministers of defense, chiefs of staff and air force commanders from 88 countries are attending the show where over 100 aircraft are on display, including close to 40 business jets.
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