© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Visitors stand in front of the Boeing 777X aircraft during the Dubai Airshow in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, November 14, 2021. REUTERS/Rula Rouhana/File photo
By Tim Hepher and Alexander Cornwell
DUBAI (Reuters) – Middle Eastern airlines are expected to order tens of billions of dollars’ worth of long-haul planes at the opening of the Dubai Airshow on Monday, as Emirates renews its confidence in the delayed Boeing (NYSE:) 777X while facing new competition will become competitors like Turkish Airlines.
Hosts Emirates and budget carrier flyDubai are expected to put their early stamp on the world’s second-biggest aerospace event, industry sources said, despite concerns about a slowdown in the economically vital travel sector due to tensions in the Middle East.
This includes a new order for several dozen Boeing 777X jets, they said, boosting the program amid ongoing uncertainty over the schedule for the world’s largest twin-engine jet, currently expected in 2025 with a five-year delay.
People familiar with the flagship program said the risks include further delays as Boeing first assesses the impact of stricter certification rules on other projects. Boeing said Friday that there had been no changes to its flight schedule.
Emirates is the world’s largest user of wide-body aircraft, including Airbus A380 superjumbos and current-generation Boeing 777s. The company has publicly stated that it is considering further orders of the modernized 777X, as well as the Airbus A350 and the smaller Boeing 787.
Of these, the 787 is the least likely to be unveiled immediately.
FlyDubai flies Boeing 737 MAX narrowbody jets that compete with the Airbus A320neo and is expected to order more aircraft in the category this week, sources said.
Emirates, Airbus and Boeing declined to comment.
Industry officials estimate that airlines worldwide are negotiating behind the scenes to buy about 700 to 800 new jets, including 200 to 300 of the world’s largest, as they make up for fleet replacement plans abandoned during the pandemic.
How many of these come to fruition in time for the Nov. 13-17 show will depend on the state of negotiations and the battle for the spotlight as golf groups face an ever-widening circle of competition.
Turkish Airlines (THY) entered the trade fair agenda on Saturday with the state news agency Anadolu reporting that it was in talks to purchase up to 355 Airbus jets.
After further discussions, industry sources said the airline could announce at least part of the deal on Monday.
It was said that negotiations were underway for a total of up to 600 aircraft, which would likely be split between Airbus and Boeing.
A Middle Eastern source described the prospect of a Turkish contract as a “bold move” that intensifies competition at the showpiece event.
However, speculation about a major order from Dubai for narrowbody jets from the region’s newest player, Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh Air, already in Dubai is premature, other sources said.
The airline, which has hinted at a decision in the coming weeks, declined to comment.
Aviation group Dubai is holding the biennial aerospace competition against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, which is driving up demand for weapons and closing airspace, making flights longer and more expensive for some airlines.
Travel analytics firm ForwardKeys said Friday that flight bookings worldwide have declined since Oct. 7.
Bookings to the Middle East fell 26%, it said.
“At least in the short term, there is enough statistical evidence to show that there has been a significant decline in ticket sales in the region,” said Daniel Silke, director of Cape Town-based Political Futures Consultancy.
Analysts say the war in Gaza is likely to increase demand for weapons on top of the surge over the past 18 months as the United States and its allies arm Ukraine against Russia. However, only a few large arms deals are expected at the fair.
Source : www.investing.com