Airbus concludes 2nd major aircraft contract at Dubai Airshow

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Airbus on Monday struck a major multi-billion dollar deal to sell 111 new planes to Air Lease Corporation, its second successful order at the Dubai Air Show.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Airbus on Monday struck a major multi-billion dollar deal to sell 111 new planes to Air Lease Corporation, its second successful order at the Dubai Air Show.

Air Lease, the Los Angeles-based aircraft finance and leasing company, added to its expanding fleet with 25 A220-300, 55 A321neo, 20 A321 XLR, four A330neo and seven A350F. At Airbus list prices before the pandemic, the order would exceed $ 15 billion, although major deals typically call for manufacturers to offer significant discounts to buyers. The company did not provide any details on the sale price.

The sale of the European aircraft manufacturer’s new twin-engine A350 freighter is seen as a direct challenge for Boeing’s long-haul 787 Dreamliner, which has experienced repeated production problems.

The Dubai Air Show pits the two major manufacturers against the crucial Middle Eastern market filled with long-haul carriers connecting East and West. US rival Boeing has yet to announce a major sale at the show.

When asked by a reporter if Airbus was grabbing Boeing’s profitable market share, Christian Scherer, Airbus Commercial Director, objected, saying, “It’s a bit violent.

“What we are doing is responding to the competitive market call,” he added.

On the opening day of the airshow, Airbus reserved the sale of 255 new planes to various low-cost carriers from Indigo Partners – a deal valued at some $ 30 billion, based on the list of pre-pandemic price.

At a press conference held as a daredevil flight demonstration roared outside, top executives from Airbus and Air Lease announced their engagement as proof of the increasing demand and the return of the ravaged aviation industry.

“The end of the COVID crisis wants to take hold on us,” Scherer proclaimed.

The Dubai Air Show experiences a flow of order and product announcements during its five days. Nigerian company Overland Airways has also signed a $ 299 million contract for three E175 jets from Embraer, Brazil’s iconic aircraft maker, to be delivered from 2023, as well as three purchase rights for the same model. .

The sales came as Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest for international travel, announced that it handled 20% more passenger traffic in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year, sparking cautious optimism even though a full recovery remains in years. So far this year, only 20.7 million people have rushed to the airport, down 74% from before the coronavirus hit in 2019.

CEO Paul Griffiths said on Monday that the figure still represented a sharp turnaround in fortunes for the crucial transit hub that has been crushed by the pandemic, forced to cut 34% of its staff and put a main terminal on hold.

“We are still optimistic about a very strong recovery,” Griffiths told The Associated Press amid the aroma of jet fuel and the noise of plane takeoffs. “It’s going to take a few years, but I hope I’m wrong.”

Some 6.7 million passengers passed through the airport in the third quarter, with flights up 17% between January and September compared to the same period last year.

With a 40% increase in bookings last month, the airport is preparing to fly to rebound at the end of the year, betting that accelerating vaccinations and relaxing travel restrictions will allow Europeans to flee time winter for the beaches of Dubai and tourists to visit the giant world exhibition. in the city which runs until March.

Griffiths said confidence had also increased with the easing of travel restrictions from India and Pakistan, which remained the airport’s largest market this quarter and regularly send legions of workers and visitors. in the United Arab Emirates. Airlines have widened their flight schedules as the United States recently welcomed vaccinated Europeans and India reopened on Monday for tourism without quarantine.

Still, there are lingering signs that the industry’s worst crisis may not be over. Behind Griffiths, dozens of Emirates’ iconic double-decker Airbus A380 fleets, largely grounded in the midst of the pandemic, loomed at Dubai World Central, the Gulf city’s second airport to be taken out of service. ‘use for commercial flights last year.

The largest carrier in the Middle East, Emirates, said it received an additional $ 681 million from the Dubai government earlier this month, bringing the total cash assistance to nearly $ 3.8 billion by then that it recorded losses of $ 1.6 billion for the third quarter.

Yet as demand for long-haul travel increases and more superjumbos fill the skies, the airport’s dedicated A380 terminal, Hall A, will come back to life later this month, Griffiths said.

Even as variations continue to cross vaccinated populations and the economic recovery remains geared towards wealthier Western countries, Griffiths described a torrent of pent-up travel demand after a year and a half of financial hardship.

“I don’t think it will be a trickle. It will be a flood, ”he said.

Meanwhile, at the Israel Pavilion, through the carpeted corridors of the Dubai Air Show convention center, the military-industrial behemoths behind the country’s arsenals of unmanned aerial vehicles, missile defense systems and military aircraft. combat sold their goods for the first time after the normalization of Israel and the United Arab Emirates. diplomatic relations last year.

The shared enmity of Iran, the Shiite powerhouse known for supplying drones and other military technology to its proxies in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Gaza, has helped bring Israel and the United Arab Emirates closer together. But even as a mock-up drone hung from the ceiling behind him, Boaz Levy, CEO of Israel Aerospace Industries, has repeatedly refused to discuss regional policy behind the company’s deals with the United Arab Emirates.

He was careful to avoid mentioning Iran and stressing the civilian character of IAI’s exports, focusing on its space satellites, aircraft conversions and aerial surveillance.

“There are a lot of threats all around,” Levy told the AP when asked repeatedly about escalating drone attacks in the region, including the volatile waters of the Persian Gulf, attributed to Iran. “I don’t analyze them. I’m just saying they exist. And countries must be prepared to defend themselves against these threats. “

Isabel Debré, The Associated Press

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