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Airbus gets biggest deal of Dubai air show with $16 billion order

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Adel Ali (L), CEO of Air Arabia, and Christian Scherer, Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) at Airbus, attend a press conference after the signing of an agreement during the Dubai Airshow on November 18, 2019. (Photo by KARIM SAHIB / AFP)

Commercial plane manufacturer, Airbus, earned the biggest deal of the Dubai air show with Emirates airline’s $16 billion bid for 50 jets in the kitty.

The chairman of Emirates, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, confirmed the deal, saying he would buy the Airbus A350 jets in a down-scaled deal that initially called for 70 planes worth $21billion.

The deal will be seen as a vote of confidence in the European company over and above Boeing.

Maktoum, however, said that his airline was still in talks with Boeing on a provisional order of 40 787 Dreamliner jets, in a blow for the American plane-maker.

Boeing has been beset by problems since two of its newest 737 Max jets crashed last year, killing more than 350 people and forcing it to ground its entire fleet.

Emirates, which operates the world’s largest international fleet of aircraft, issued warnings to both Airbus and Boeing last month, bemoaning production delays and unreliable engines in their aircraft.

Maktoum said the new deal “replaced” an agreement to purchase 70 Airbus aircraft, which had included 40 of the A330neo and 30 of the A350.

The new deal is worth $16 billion at list prices, though large airlines often negotiate steep discounts.

The A350 is slightly larger than the A330neo and slightly more expensive, though is lighter and therefore more fuel-efficient.

Large airlines are increasingly opting for more efficient planes to reduce fuel cost duties and environmental levies.

It comes after Emirates significantly lowered its orders for Airbus’s A380 jumbo jet, prompting the company to scrap production altogether.

Monday’s announcement by Emirates is the first major purchasing agreement to be unveiled at the biennial Dubai Airshow this year amid a slowdown in major purchases by the Middle East’s big Gulf airlines.

The airshow opened on Sunday and runs until Thursday on the grounds near Dubai’s newest international airport.

On the first day of the conference just two aircraft were sold – Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners to Biman Bangladesh Airlines, worth almost $600million.

Abu Dhabi’s flagship carrier Etihad Airways said Monday it’s launching one of the world’s most fuel-efficient long-haul airplanes as the company 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’s 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 per cent more fuel-efficient than other aircraft in Etihad’s fleet.

“This is not just a box-ticking exercise,” he told reporters at the unveiling of the initiative at the Dubai Airshow alongside executives from Boeing.

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.”

Etihad has reported losses of $4.75 billion since 2016 as its strategy of aggressively buying stakes in airlines from Europe to Australia exposed the company to major risks.

Despite its financials, the airline continues to be among the most innovative. This year, Etihad flew the world’s first passenger flight using sustainable biofuel made from a plant that grows in saltwater.

It also became the first in the Middle East to operate a flight without any single-use plastics onboard to raise awareness of the effects of plastic pollution.


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