AIRBUS: The European alternative

21 November 2005
Boeing's main rival Airbus estimates that the Middle East will require more than 1,000 aircraft worth some $124,000 million by 2023, according to the company's latest market forecast. Of this figure, 630 will meet growth requirements, and 385 will be fleet replacements. About 485 will be single-aisle, 440 intermediate-size wide bodies and 90 superjumbos, says the manufacturer, which aims to corner half of this business.

'Airbus is the only manufacturer offering a modern very large aircraft, the A380, which gives us an edge in this category,' says Abdullah Sbai, vice-president for Middle East sales. We also have the most efficient point-to-point aircraft, the Airbus A350.' 'Our A350 carries 30 more passengers, 8 per cent more economically per seat and 555 kilometres further than its closest competitor. And the A350 has the same type-rating as the A330, which makes it very easy for pilots to make the transition.'

Airbus claims to have won more than half the total airliner orders worldwide in five of the last six years, and will deliver more than half of the newbuilds this year. It says it consistently wins about 60 per cent of new orders in the Middle East. Qatar Airways announced an order for 60 A350s at this year's Paris Air Show and Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways have all ordered the A380.

Recent entrants to the low-cost market - Air Arabia, Menajet and Jazeera Airways (below) - are all A320 customers. The Airbus Corporate Jetliner (ACJ) has also won regional customers, including the Kharafi Group of Kuwait, National Air Services of Saudi Arabia, Qatar Airways and several undisclosed clients.

Airbus forecasts annual traffic growth of 7.1 per cent in the Middle East, 4.5 per cent in North Africa and 5.3 per cent worldwide.

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