Airbus signs second largest aircraft deal at Dubai Airshow

Airbus signs second largest aircraft deal at Dubai Airshow

Dubai Ha’aretz: — Airbus sealed a major multi-billion-dollar deal on Monday to sell 111 new planes to Air Lease Corporation, its second flagship order at the Dubai Airshow.

Air Lease, the Los Angeles-based aircraft finance and leasing company, has added to its expanding fleet with 25 A220-300s, 55 A321neos, 20 A321 XLRs, four A330neos and seven A350Fs. At Airbus’ pre-pandemic price list, demand would exceed $15 billion, although big deals usually see manufacturers offering deep discounts to buyers. The company did not provide any details on the sale price.

The sale of the European planemaker’s new, twin-engine A350 freighter is seen as a direct challenge to the Boeing 787’s long-range Dreamliner, which has suffered repeated production problems.

The Dubai Airshow puts the two major companies up against each other in a vibrant Middle East market filled with long-haul carriers connecting East and West. US rival Boeing has yet to announce a major sale deal at the show.

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When asked by a reporter if Airbus was breaking into Boeing’s lucrative market share, Christian Scherer, Airbus’ chief commercial officer, objected, “That’s a bit violent.”

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

On the opening day of the airshow, Airbus booked the sale of 255 new aircraft to Indigo Partners’ various low-cost carriers — a deal estimated to be worth about $30 billion, based on pre-pandemic list prices.

At a press conference as a daring overseas flight show took off, senior executives from Airbus and Air Lease announced their commitment as evidence of rising demand and the resurgence of a devastated airline industry.

“The end of the COVID crisis wants to prove itself on us,” Scherer declared.

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The Dubai Airshow sees a series of orders and product announcements over its five days. Nigerian Airlines Overland also signed a $299 million contract to purchase three E175s from Brazil’s iconic aircraft manufacturer Embraer, to be delivered from 2023, along with 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 as a full recovery continues for years. . Just 20.7 million people have squeezed through the airport so far this year – 74% less than it was before the coronavirus spread in 2019.

Chief Executive Officer Paul Griffiths said Monday that the number still represented a sharp turnaround in the fortunes of a critical transit hub that has been hit by the pandemic, which has been forced to cut 34% of its staff and close a major terminal.

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“We remain optimistic that the recovery is very strong,” Griffiths told The Associated Press, amid the smell of jet fuel and the noise of planes taking off. “It will take two years, but I hope I’m wrong.”

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

With a 40% rise in bookings last month, the airport is preparing for a bounce at the end of the year, betting that speeding vaccinations and easing travel restrictions will allow Europeans to escape the wintry weather of Dubai’s beaches and tourists to visit the city’s giant World Expo that runs through March.

Griffiths said confidence also grew with the easing of travel restrictions from India and Pakistan, which remained the airport’s largest market this quarter and routinely send large numbers of workers and visitors to the United Arab Emirates. Airlines expanded their flight schedules as the US recently welcomed the return of vaccinated Europeans and India reopened to quarantine-free tourism on Monday.

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However, there are still lingering signs that the industry’s worst ever crisis may not be over. Behind Griffiths, dozens of Emirates’ iconic fleet of double-decker Airbus A380s, largely centered in the midst of the pandemic, loom at Dubai World Central, the second Gulf airport that ceased use for commercial flights last year.

Emirates Airlines, the largest airline in the Middle East, reported that it received an additional $681 million from the Dubai government earlier this month, bringing the total cash assistance close to $3.8 billion as it posted losses of $1.6 billion in the third quarter.

As demand for long-haul flights grows and more giant planes fill the sky, the airport’s dedicated A380 lounge, Concourse A, will come back to life later this month, Griffiths said.

Even as variables continue to run through the vaccination of the population, and the economic recovery continues to tilt toward wealthier Western nations, Griffiths described an avalanche of pent-up travel demand after a year and a half of financial hardship.

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“I don’t think it will be gaunt. It will be a flood.”

Meanwhile, in the Israeli pavilion, across the carpeted halls of the Dubai Airshow Convention Center, the military-industrial giants behind the country’s arsenals of drones, missile defense systems and fighter jets have been promoting their goods for the first time after the normalization of Israel and the UAE. Diplomatic relations last year.

The shared hostility of Iran, a Shiite power known for providing drones and other military technologies to its proxies in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, and Gaza, has helped unite Israel and the United Arab Emirates. But even as a drone hung behind him from the ceiling, Boaz Levy, CEO of Israel Aerospace Industries, has repeatedly refused to discuss the regional policy behind the company’s deals with the United Arab Emirates.

He did his best to avoid mentioning Iran and stress the civilian nature of IAI’s exports, focusing on its satellites, aircraft conversions, and aerial surveillance.

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“There are a lot of threats all around,” Levy told The Associated Press when asked several times about the escalation of drone attacks across the region, including in the turbulent waters of the Persian Gulf, which is blamed on Iran. I am not analyzing it. I’m just saying they exist. And countries need to prepare to defend themselves against those threats.”

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