Huge Deals for Airbus, Boeing at Dubai Airshow

Mideast carriers place record orders at UAE event.

Qatar

Qatar

** Qatar is reportedly dropping plans to
convert A330s to freight use. **

Though it probably doesn’t have much bearing on aviation’s fortunes in the rest of the world, this week’s Dubai Airshow in the United Arab Emirates has gotten off to a rousing start, marked by a buying bonanza among Middle Eastern airlines as Boeing and Airbus each reaped massive sales.

Qatar Airways made the biggest splash when it agreed to acquire up to 80 Airbus A320neos and eight more Airbus A380s – although it wasn’t just the sales contract that made the deal noteworthy: There appears to have been some doubt about the sale’s fate after strong public criticism earlier in the day on Tuesday by Qatar’s outspoken chief executive Akbar Al Baker. He reportedly canceled a press conference at the last minute and then publicly lashed out at Airbus during a press event later at which Qatar ordered Boeing 777 freighters. But something apparently changed in the afternoon, as Qatar went ahead and announced the blockbuster deal with Airbus, estimated to be worth more than $6 billion.

The show kicked off on Monday with the UAE’s Emirates Airlines placing a record $18 billion order for 50 Boeing 777s. Boeing and Airbus each anticipate strong sales from Mideast carriers for years to come, with the companies estimating total sales of between $350 billion to $450 billion in the region by 2030.

The Dubai Airshow runs through Thursday.