Airways in the Gulf sign mass orders for aircraft from Airbus and Boeing
11 November 2007
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - Gulf Arab air companies said they passed firm orders for some 140 aircraft at the opening of the Dubai Airshow on Sunday in deals globally worth nearly US$40 billion.
Emirates Airline signed a massive order for 93 commercial aircraft with an option on 50 more. Emirates' contracts, which include firm orders for 78 Airbus and 12 Boeing airplanes as well as deals with engine manufacturers, are worth a total of US$23.4 billion (euro15.94 billion), the company said in a statement.
The Dubai-based airlines said it was committing close to US$35 billion (euro23.84 billion) overall with these deals if an option for 50 additional planes is included.
"Emirates is making aviation history," chairman and chief executive Sheik Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum said in the statement. "This is the largest-ever aircraft commitment in civil aviation made by any airline in a single order," he said.
Firm orders include 70 Airbus A350 planes, with an option for 50 more. The first A350 will be delivered to Emirates in 2014, the statement said.
The company also ordered another eight of Airbus' new superjumbo A380, the world's largest commercial jet. Emirates said it has passed a total of 58 firm orders, making it the biggest customer for the A380. It is expected to start taking delivery of the plane in August 2008.
The airline's contract with Boeing is for 12 firm orders of the 777-300ERs jets, valued at US$3.2 billion (euro 2.18 billion). With this new order, Emirates said it has 57 Boeing 777s pending delivery and will become the largest 777 operator in the coming years.
Sheik Ahmed signed the contracts with Airbus Chief Executive Thomas Enders, and Lee Monson, vice president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes for the Middle East and Africa. Emirates said it also bought aircraft engines from Rolls Royce, Engine Alliance and GE Aviation.
Emirates said its total order book now stands at 246 aircraft worth over US$60 billion (euro40.86 billion). "This is a massive investment which reflects our confidence in the future of air transport, and our confidence in Dubai," the company said.
Also on Sunday, Qatar Airways bought US$13.5 billion (euro9.2 billion) worth of planes from Boeing while a Saudi airline placed US$2.2 billion (euro1.5 billion) in orders with Airbus in a flurry of buying at the air show.
Middle East airlines are expanding rapidly as traffic in the region is growing due to a four-year Gulf economic boom driven by high oil prices.
Qatar Airways ordered 27 Boeing 777 planes, including 22 that were previously listed with the American aircraft manufacturer, but only identified on Sunday.
The airline representatives said that Qatar Airways would also order 30 Boeing 787 aircraft, with an option for 30 more, DowJones Newswire reported.
Qatar Airways plans to double its 58-strong fleet to 110 aircraft by 2010. The Boeing deliveries are expected to start later this month.
In addition to 20 Airbus A320 aircraft, the Saudi low-cost carrier National Air Services has an option to buy another 18 aircraft from the company, the airline said. This is part of a plan to buy 98 aircraft for US$4 billion (euro 2.72 billion), said Taher Agueel, NAS president. Deliveries will start in 2012, he said.
The massive sales Sunday came as the U.S. dollar continued to slump. A weak dollar does not make the planes more expensive, but lowers the profits at Airbus since half of the company's' costs are in euros, Airbus spokesman David Velupillai told DowJones at the Dubai air show.
"We're open to selling our aircraft in euros or in a basket of currencies," Velupillai said. "We're also trying to cut down costs by placing our work force in dollar zones and are importing a lot of materials from the U.S."
Airbus is owned by European Aeronautic Defense & Space Company. It has worked to put many of the problems with its superjumbo A380 and fuel-efficient A350 behind it, but another problematic plane, this time a military aircraft, continues to hurt parent company EADS.
EADS said last week it will take a bigger-than-expected third-quarter charge of euro1.2 billion (US$1.75 billion) to euro1.4 billion (US$2 billion) as a result of delays related to its Airbus A400M military aircraft.
EADS has scrapped its profit forecast for 2007.