Saturday 25 November 2017

Airbus draws with Boeing at Dubai show dominated by 777, tirade


Andrea Rothman and Tamara Walid

AIRBUS and Boeing finished the Dubai Air Show neck and neck on contracts in an event dominated by Boeing's biggest-ever order -- and a public tirade against Airbus by one of its biggest customers.

Boeing left with an order from Emirates for 50 777-300ERs valued at $18bn (€13.3bn) and pulled in another for two 777 freighters from Qatar Airways worth $560m.

Airbus's $17.6bn order tally relied almost entirely on the single-aisle A320neo, the industry's fastest-selling model.

Its success at the show mirrored its performance at the Paris Air event in June, where new engines for its 20-year-old A320 drew orders for hundreds of planes.

At Dubai, Airbus's new A350 wide-body failed to attract business and instead drew criticism from Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker, who said design changes on the biggest variant fell short.

"Our A320neo has again been the star of the show," Airbus CEO John Leahy said in Dubai. "Despite some storm clouds on the horizon, there is still strong market demand for fuel-efficient aircraft."


Besides Qatar Airways, Airbus signed deals with Aviation Lease & Finance of Kuwait, Spirit Airlines, a low-cost US airline that committed for 75 A320 jets, and Aviation Capital Group for 30 A320neo aircraft.

Airbus's order from Qatar Airways, which included five additional A380 superjumbos, was a turnaround for the planemaker after Al Baker stood up Leahy for an order announcement. Instead, he used a press conference with Boeing as a platform to blast Airbus, saying he was displeased with the A350.

The two sides made up hours later at a signing ceremony for the A320neo and A380 aircraft. Airbus released a tally at the show, listing 211 orders and commitments valued at $20.5bn at list price.

The count included completion of an order for 50 A320neo jets from Aviation Lease & Finance. (Bloomberg)

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