Emirates grabs the limelight

02 December 2005
Dubai-based carrier Emirates was the main talking point of the 2005 Dubai Airshow after announcing an order for 42 777 aircraft from The Boeing Companyof the US, in a deal worth an estimated $9,700 million. The order was the largest made at the airshow, which saw more than $20,000 million worth of contracts announced between 20-24 November.

Under the terms of the deal, Emirates will take delivery of 24 Boeing 777-300ERs, 10 Boeing 777-200LRs and eight Boeing 777-200F freighters from 2007-13. The airliner also obtained purchase rights to an additional 20 aircraft from the Seattle-based aircraft manufacturer.

'This order will support Emirates' growth plan and enhance our fleet, range and delivery,' said Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum on 20 November. 'We intend to use the new aircraft to strengthen existing routes to cities in Europe, Asia and Africa. The 777's excellent economics and extended range will also allow Emirates to serve new destinations and explore new cities and nations across the globe, including non-stop to the US west coast and also to South America.'

With announced total orders of more than $13,000 million at the show, Boeing was widely seen to have won the battle of the world's two main aircraft manufacturers. Both Boeing and Airbusare locked in a struggle, the outcome of which depends on rival strategies: point-to-point versus hub-to-hub. Boeing believes the passenger of the future prefers the minimum of inconvenience. Airbus is convinced that airlines will back its A380's superior delivery capabilities. In setting a record with the 777-200LR for the longest ever flight around the world on 10 November, which went the 'wrong way' from Hong Kong to London, Boeing's gamble is that 'city pairs' halfway round the world serviced by single flights on 300-seat airliners are the way forward.

'I am honoured to be here in Dubai on my first international trip as leader of Boeing, and delighted that Emirates has decided to make the 777 a cornerstone of its fleet' said Boeing chairman, president and CEO Jim McNerney. 'The success story of Emirates continues. I want you to know how proud we are at Boeing to be part of that story.'

'I think it's going very well,' Airbus president and CEO Gustav Humbert told MEED on 21 November. 'We had our fourth announcement of orders here today. We've had the A318, A320, and A350, so all our family is obviously very well appreciated in the marketplace. We are quite happy with the orientation. The whole chess game is very exciting. We are, for the time being, a little bit behind in order intake for this year, but we have led in order intake for the last four or five years.

'As long as we are between 40-60 per cent market share, we are fine. Profitability of 1 per cent is more important in this race than 1 per cent of market share. We are well ahead of our competitor in deliveries, at roughly 370 aircraft this year. Our order backlog is also important: we have more than four years of production order backlog. We are not worried that for one year, Boeing might be better in order intake than we are.'

Had the size of Emirates' Boeing 777 order spoilt Airbus' Dubai trip? 'It's always disappointing, but the A340-500 and 600 have about 50 per cent of the market up against the 777-300ER and 200LR,' says Airbus chief operating officer John Leahy. 'I would expect us to maintain that. Fifty per cent of the market means that you have to lose 50 per cent of your orders. It's unfortunate that it was as big as it was, but we were expecting that there would be some orders for 777s.'

Emirates announced a contract, worth an estimated $2,500 million, with the US' GE, for the supply and 12-year maintenance of GE90-115B engines for the 777 aircraft. The carrier signed a further deal, worth up to $600 million over three years, with

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