Dubai speed machine defies slowdown

Sun Nov 13, 2011 7:36pm EST
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By Shankar Sitaraman and Tim Hepher

DUBAI (Reuters) - Boeing (BA.N: Quote) savoured an order worth at least $18 billion for 50 wide-body 777 jetliners from host airline Emirates as the Dubai Air Show entered a second day beating the drum for growth despite widespread economic gloom.

The largest single order by value in Boeing's history boosted the Middle East's largest industry event and pushed talk of global recession to the sidelines -- though analysts said getting aircraft financing was proving an increasing challenge.

Qatar Airways looked set to step in with a possible Boeing order on Monday and was expected to give its final verdict on a long-awaited Airbus order that sources said would include A380 superjumbos on Tuesday, but talks appeared to be continuing.

Sources familiar with the matter said Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways was ready to buy an extra 12 Boeings including 10 787 Dreamliners and two more 777s, but may not announce at the show.

The Gulf's big three are buying wide-body aircraft to serve Asia and the United States and redraw the world's transport and logistics map with the Gulf at the center, thanks to its ability to reach most of the world's population in one long-haul hop.

Kuwaiti lessor Alafco plans to boost an order for 30 Airbus EAD.PA A320neo passenger aircraft, probably on Monday.

The battle to redirect flows of people and cargo via the Gulf has provoked sharp exchanges with airlines in Europe. Emirates hit back at charges that it is flooding the market by pointing to European superjumbos flying into Dubai.

Emirates is the largest customer for the 525-seat Airbus EAD.PA A380 superjumbo with 90 of the world's largest airliner on order and there have been signs it might buy even more.   Continued...