Airbus nails 30B in new plane orders at Dubai Airshow

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Airbus nailed down $30
billion in new plane orders on the second day of the Dubai Airshow after
previous rounds of the biennial showcase saw its competitor Boeing take the
lion’s share of deals.

The largest deal came from the Middle East’s biggest
carrier, Dubai-based Emirates, which announced it would be buying 20
additional widebody Airbus A350s, bringing its total order for the aircraft to
50 in an agreement worth $16 billion at list price. That deal, however,
replaces a $21.4 billion agreement struck in February to purchase 70 Airbus
aircraft, which had included 40 of the A330neo. Delivery is slated to start in
2023.

In another big announcement for Airbus, Emirati budget
carrier Air Arabia said it would be purchasing 120 new Airbus planes in a deal
worth $14 billion at list price.

Air Arabia, which operates mainly out of the emirate of
Sharjah, already has a fleet entirely made up of Airbus planes. The new deal will
include 73 A320neos, 27 A321neos and 20 A321 XLRs, with first delivery in 2024.

It comes as one of the United Arab Emirates’ main carriers, Etihad Group, recently announced a joint venture with Air Arabia to launch Air
Arabia Abu Dhabi, the first low-cost airline based in Abu Dhabi.

Boeing, meanwhile, has used the public appearances of its
executives the airshow to stress the company’s commitment to safety after two
plane crashes killed nearly 350 people after takeoff from Indonesia in October
of last year and from Ethiopia in March. The aircraft’s automated
flight-control system played a part in pushing the planes’ noses down until the
jets plummeted.

The crashes forced the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max fleet
around the world. The company is now working to meet a self-imposed deadline
for U.S. regulatory approval of changes to the aircraft and the training of
pilots to get it flying again by January.

Despite its troubles, the Max won a vote of confidence from
at least one buyer at the airshow. Turkey’s SunExpress announced a purchase of
10 additional 737-8 Max jets, bringing its overall order of the plane to 42.
The deal is valued at $1.2 billion, but it’s likely the airline will negotiate
for a better deal as Boeing talks to airlines about compensations for the
grounding of the aircraft and reaches settlements with relatives of victims who
perished.

“We have full confidence that Boeing will deliver us a safe,
reliable and efficient aircraft,” SunExpress CEO Jens Bischof said. “This
requires the undisputed airworthiness of the model.”

The airline is based in the Turkish coastal city of Antalya
and jointly owned by Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa.

It’s not the first major order for the jet since its
grounding. In June, a mere two months after the second Max jet crashed, one of
the world’s largest airline groups — IAG — announced its intention to purchase 200.

Meanwhile, Boeing touted its partnership with Abu Dhabi’s
flagship carrier Etihad Airways on Monday as the companies unveiled one of the
world’s most fuel-efficient long-haul airplanes. It comes as Etihad seeks to
save costs on fuel and position itself as a more environmentally-conscious
choice for travelers.

Etihad’s “Greenliner” is a Boeing 787 Dreamliner that will
depart on its first route from Abu Dhabi to Brussels in January 2020. Etihad
CEO Tony Douglas described the aircraft as a flying laboratory for testing that
could benefit the entire industry.

With fuel costs eating up around a quarter of airline
spending, Douglas said the goal of the Greenliner is to be 20% more fuel-efficient than other aircraft in Etihad’s fleet.

“This is not just a box-ticking exercise,” he said at the
unveiling of the initiative at the Dubai Airshow.

Douglas said the aircraft “not only makes sense economically
from a profit and loss account point of view, but because it also directly
impacts the CO2 because of the fuel burn.”

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