QA stole the show with the announcement of a $3,000 million contract with Toulouse-based Airbusfor 14 new A340-600 and A380 aircraft, including firm offers for two of each model, and options for a further two A380s and eight A340s. The deal brings the airline’s total orders placed with Airbus this year to 48 aircraft, following the $5,100 million agreement struck in June for up to 32 A320 and A321 aircraft. QA on 7 December also agreed to purchase two long-range business jets from Canada’s Bombardier Aerospace.

In keeping with the airline’s expansion plans, Qatar Aeronautical College has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the UK’s BAE Systemsto set up a joint venture company to manage a planned flight training centre in Doha.

The airshow also marked the inauguration of a flight school in Dubai which will be managed by a joint venture of Emirates and Canada’s CAE. The Canadian company announced on 9 December that Emirates had placed an order for a Bell 412 helicopter simulator, which will be installed in the centre. Sharjah-based Air Arabia, Royal Bruneiand NA S signed deals worth a total of $12 million for training programmes at the centre.

Emirates on 8 December announced the second biggest order of the show, a contract worth more than $1,500 million placed with Engine Alliance, a US joint venture between GE Aircraft Enginesand Pratt & Whitney, for 101 engines for its fleet of 23 A380s. The order is for 92 GP7200 engines, which will be installed after the first deliveries of aircraft from Airbus in September 2006, and nine spare engines.

Emirates announced two days later that it had signed a letter of intent with GE sister company GE Engine Servicesfor a long-term maintenance agreement for the engines powering its A340-300 aircraft. Under the terms of the $200 million agreement, GE will overhaul 32 CFM56-5C engines and maintain them over a nine-year period. The airline also signed an agreement with GE Aircraft Engines to design and build a 6,000-square-metre facility for testing jet engines. Emirates also announced on the same day the signing of an MoU with Germany’s Lufthansa Technikto conduct a joint feasibility study on a possible pooling agreement. Under the agreement, the two airlines would share each others’ spare aircraft on certain routes.

There was strong interest from regional airlines in the business jets on display at the show. Apart from its sales agreement with QA, Bombardier secured an order from Bexair for one of its Challenger class aircraft. Bexair also announced the acquisition of a Citation Bravo aircraft from the US’ Cessna Aircraft Company. The two orders were worth $30 million in total.

US business jet manufacturer Gulfstream Aerospace Corporationdid brisk business at Dubai 2003, signing an agreement to supply three mid-range G300 aircraft to NAS. The $75 million sales agreement will be underwritten by a $69 million loan guarantee from the US’ Export-Import Bank.