Gulf takes aviation by storm with $200 billion of orders

Thu Nov 21, 2013 1:33pm EST
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By Tim Hepher

DUBAI (Reuters) - Planemakers left Dubai with a record $200 billion in deals after a desert rainstorm forced organizers to cancel the last day of its air show - an event that demonstrated their growing reliance on the Gulf to secure support for big jets.

A flurry of dealmaking gave Boeing the momentum it needed to launch its latest aircraft, known as the 777X, with some 250 orders worth $100 billion, as reported by Reuters last week.

Rival Airbus secured a much-needed boost for the A380 superjumbo after Emirates ordered 50 more and brought its share of orders for the world's largest airliner to almost half.

Fighters and jetliners fled the oncoming storm, which flooded exhibition halls at Dubai's brand-new Al Maktoum airport. To reach it, delegates had driven through sand dunes earmarked for rapid development into an aviation metropolis.

"This is the land of possibilities," said aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia, drawing a contrast with disputes over the development of a new runway at London's Heathrow Airport.

"Everywhere else seems stagnant, relying on derivatives and cost-cutting measures," he added.

The payback highlighted at the Nov 17-21 air show is that some Gulf states such as Abu Dhabi expect industrial investments in their own aerospace industries, heating up competition with Western suppliers while reducing the cost of new parts.

And Gulf airlines, which also increased orders for Airbus A350s, increased their leverage over planemakers as they seek to avoid past delays in developments of new jets. That could weigh on a labor debate over where the new 777X should be built.   Continued...

An Airbus A380, the world's largest passenger jet, flies during the Dubai Airshow November 18, 2013. REUTERS/Caren Firouz