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Manufacturers bullish on Gulf potential

written by | November 15, 2011
An Emirates A380 at Dubai. (Rob Finlayson)

Boeing and Airbus have released competing estimates of what both see as a booming market for commercial aircraft in the Middle East over the next 20 years.

The bullish forecasts come amid the Dubai Airshow, which has already seen a record deal between Boeing and Emirates Airlines.

Boeing estimates the region’s carriers will need an additional 2520 airliners worth US$450 billion by 2030, a 160 per cent increase over the current fleet. Airbus put the increase at 1960 aircraft worth US$347.4 billion over the same span.


The forecasts come on the heels of a 200 per cent increase in international travel through the Middle East over the past 10 years, according to Airbus. That growth has seen Dubai’s Emirates, Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways and Doha-based Qatar Airways emerge as major players in the airline industry.

“The region is uniquely placed with more than 85 per cent of the worl’d population within reach of a direct flight, making the Middle East a fertile market place for our eco-efficient aircraft today and beyond,” John Leahy, Airbus chief operating officer, customers, said.

Airbus estimates that passenger demand in the region will increase by 6.4 per cent per year over the next 20 years, compared with a 4.8 per cent global average.

While both aerospace giants said the bulk of the new demand would be for single and twin-aisle jets, they differed significantly over how much of the market will go to jumbo jets such as the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental. Airbus, with its A380 already in production, tabbed such jets as 17 per cent of the market growth. Boeing, whose 747-8I is scheduled to begin delivery next year after delays, said jumbo jets would make up just seven per cent of 20-year demand.


Airbus says the region’s carriers are increasingly choosing large aircraft because of their focus on medium and long haul routes and because of the reduced training, maintenance and fuel costs of larger jets. Both makers forecast a decline in demand for regional jets.

The Dubai Air show opened with Emirates Airlines announcing a larger than expected order for 50 Boeing 777-300ER twin aisle airliners. Boeing said the deal, valued at $18 billion, was the largest in its history by dollar value. Several other major deals are expected to be announced this week.

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