Almost 10 per cent of Airbus’ total 2012 deliveries were made to airlines in the Middle East and North Africa.

Orders of new Airbus aircraft accounted for 3.5 per cent of Airbus’ total gross orders made last year, and the France-based aircraft producer believes that demand in the region is only set to grow in the coming years.

A total of 32 Airbus aircraft were ordered by Middle Eastern and North African carriers during 2012, according to the company’s recent results. 

Globally, 914 gross orders were placed with Airbus during last year and once cancellations are taken into consideration, orders totalled 833. The manufacturer beat its order target of 650 aircraft, although gross orders were lower than the 1608 ordered placed last year.

Deliveries to Middle Eastern and North African airlines exceeded orders, with a total of 45 aircraft delivered to the region. This represents 7.65 per cent of Airbus’ total 2012 deliveries, which stands at 588.

Looking forward to the next two decades, Airbus forecasts that the Middle East will account for almost 10 per cent of future aircraft deliveries.

A total of 27,350 passenger aircraft will be ordered globally over the next 20 years. Of this,1,960 aircraft will be ordered by Middle Eastern airlines.

The leading airlines such as Abu Dhabi’s Etihad and Dubai-based Emirates are expected to continue to expand their fleet of larger aircraft as they look to offer more long-haul flights.

Smaller Middle Eastern regional airlines are planning to expand their fleets. Iraqi Airways took delivery of its first widebody A330-200 aircraft, at the end of last year.

In early 2013, the relatively new Tunisian carrier Syphax Airlines has signed an agreement with Airbus to order six new aircraft.  

In contrast, Airbus’ main competitor Boeing could fare less well in the Middle East, following the recent technical and safety problems with its much-vaulted new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

The planes have been promoted as the next-generation of highly energy-efficient aircraft. Qatar Airways has been a key regional buyer of the model with an existing fleet of five planes, and Boeing was no doubt keen to win further orders in the Middle East.

Yet since a Dreamliner owned by Japan’s Nippon Airlines was forced to make an emergency landing due to the malfunctioning battery in early January, Qatar Airways has grounded its fleet.

The Qatari airline’s decision follows the directive from US aviation authorities, and the planes will remain out of use until the safety issues have been addressed.

In the long-term Boeing’s continues to see the Middle East and North Africa as a significant growth market, predicting that the region will require 2,370 new planes, worth an estimated $470bn over the next 20 years.