Dubai Airshow, the first major global aviation organization held after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, opened its doors to its visitors for the tenth time. While more than 1200 companies from 148 countries participated in the fair, more than 160 aircraft were exhibited. More than 120 thousand visitors attended the organization, which took place under the impact of the pandemic. Manufacturers managed to receive a record number of orders.
Two giant manufacturers Airbus and Boeing managed to exceed the figures they achieved at the 2019 fair regarding the aircraft orders.
European Airbus closed the Dubai Airshow with an order for 404 aircraft. Its American rival Boeing, on the other hand, received an order for 101 aircraft. At the 2019 fair, Airbus received 220 orders and Boeing 97 orders. The list price of the orders given by the airlines at the fair is thought to have reached 80 billion dollars.
Regional aircraft manufacturer ATR managed to receive 7 orders for the 72-600 model, while Brazilian Embraer managed to receive 6 orders for the E175 model, 3 of which are optional.
Dubai's national airline Emirates, on the other hand, managed to attract the attention at the fair, as it did in the fair 2 years ago, by placing an order of 25 billion dollars to the manufacturers.
On the first day of the fair, Airbus managed to receive a total of 255 orders for A321neo family aircraft from Indigo Partners companies and made a great start. 29 of these orders were placed for the A321 XLR. The breakdown of 255 orders was 102 aircraft to Hungarian Wizz Air, 91 to U.S. Frontier, 39 to Mexico Volaris and 23 to Chilean JetSMART. On the second day of the fair, aircraft leasing company Air Lease Corporation placed an order for a total of 111 aircraft, including 7 A350 freighters. Thus, it became the launch customer for the Airbus A350 freighter. The breakdown of ALC's 111 orders was 25 A220-300, 55 A321neo, 20 A321XLR and 4 A330neo. On the third day of the fair, Kuwait Jazeera Airways committed to buy 28 Airbus A321neos, while Nigerian Ibom Air placed an order of 10 A220s.
During the show, all eyes were on Boeing's 777X, which was unveiled at the Dubai Airshow and also participated in demonstration flights. Although the new aircraft was the focus of attention at the fair, the U.S. manufacturer failed to receive an order for this aircraft in Dubai. For the 777X program, which is 2.5 years behind the planned schedule, the operators, especially Emirates, the launch customer of the aircraft, were a bit hesitant and distant. The B777X is expected to complete the certification process in 2023.
The orders Boeing was able to receive at the fair were mainly for freighters. On the first day of the fair, Icelandic leasing company Icelease placed an order for 11 passenger-to-cargo conversion 737-800s. On the second day, DHL Express placed 9 passenger-to-cargo conversion 767-300 orders. On the second day, Emirates also placed an order for 2 new Boeing 777 freighters. On the third day of the fair, Sky One purchased 3 777-300s. Air Tanzania ordered 1 Boeing 787 Dreamliner, 1 767 freighter and 2 737 MAX aircraft. On the last day of the fair, the new Indian airlines venture Akasa Air pleased Boeing with its 72 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft order.
Things Getting Hot in Freighter Market
Aircraft manufacturers are taking their positions for freighters against the increase in demand. U.S. manufacturer Boeing previously announced that it was holding serious negotiations to produce the cargo version of the 777X aircraft. Qatar Airways stepped in to become a launch customer of the 777X freighter at the Dubai Airshow, committing to place a major order.
Boeing announced during the week that three new conversion lines will be added for the 737-800 aircraft across North America and Europe. In 2022, the company will open one conversion line at Boeing's London Gatwick Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul (MRO) facility; and two conversion lines in 2023 at KF Aerospace MRO in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.
Boeing forecasts 1,720 freighter conversions will be needed over the next 20 years to meet the demand. The company expects nearly 20% of that demand coming from European carriers, and 30% coming from North America and Latin America.
Boeing also announced that it has received more than 200 orders and commitments from 19 customers for the 737-800 standard body freighters. The company signed a firm order with Icelease, Iceland-based aircraft lessor, for 11 freighters as the launch customer for the new conversion line in London.
It is most certainly believed that Boeing is to expand the aircraft conversion lines in North America, Europe and Asia in the future.
Boeing's European rival, Airbus, announced that it expects 4.7% annual growth in freight demand boosted by e-commerce. The company also forecasts 2.7% annual volume growth in general cargo, representing nearly 75% of the market.
Airbus has hit the button to launch a freighter version of its long-awaited wide-body A350 aircraft. The aircraft is scheduled to enter into service in 2025. Airbus, at the Dubai Airshow, signed an agreement with Air Lease Corporation for 7 aircraft. The company aims to announce further orders for this aircraft soon. The freighter version of the A350 will compete against Boeing's 777 freighter.
Airbus has failed to sell a single freighter since 2015. The freighter version of Airbus' most popular wide-body aircraft, the A350, is thought to ignite new competition in the Boeing-dominated cargo market. It is a matter of curiosity how the Airbus A350 can take a share in this market dominated by Boeing.
Airbus predicts that over the next 20 years there will be a need for some 2,440 freighters, of which 880 will be new-build.