Air­bus ends order dearth at Dubai show

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - BUSINESS - By Ben­jamin Katz

Air­bus SE has fi­nally over­come its drought in Dubai. On the third day of the Dubai Air Show, the plane­maker signed a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing val­ued at $2.7 bil­lion for 25 of its A320­neo air­lin­ers from Kuwaiti car­rier Wataniya Air­ways.

Wataniya re­sumed op­er­a­tions from the Gulf state in July af­ter go­ing bust in 2011 with a fleet of just two A320 air­craft. Air­bus has come un­der pres­sure to re­gain ground on archri­val Boe­ing Co. at the show af­ter a widely ex­pected deal for about 36 A380 air­craft from Emi­rates failed to ma­te­ri­al­ize on the first day and there were no other or­ders to an­nounce on the fol­low­ing day.

Com­pound­ing its woes, the Dubai-based gi­ant in­stead placed an order for 40 of Boe­ing’s 787 Dream­lin­ers. Air­bus is work­ing to turn around its for­tunes dur­ing the re­main­der of the show, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Among prospec­tive or­ders are ac­cords with Egyp­tAir Air­lines Co. for A320­neo sin­gle-aisle air­craft, as well as a deal with Dubai-based dis­count car­rier FlyDubai, which is ne­go­ti­at­ing for as many as 175 nar­row-body planes, said the peo­ple, who asked not to be iden­ti­fied as talks are pri­vate and an agree­ment may change or get de­layed.

The Euro­pean plane-maker re­mains con­fi­dent it can bring home the order for ad­di­tional A380 su­per­jum­bos from Emi­rates. Boe­ing isn’t done with deals yet, ei­ther. Among the trans­ac­tions in its pipe­line is a deal to place about half a dozen 787 Dream­lin­ers with Egyp­tAir, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the talks.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for Air­bus, Boe­ing and the air­lines in­volved de­clined to com­ment.

Air shows are fo­rums that bring to­gether man­u­fac­tur­ers and cus­tomers and of­fer a prime op­por­tu­nity to close deals that have been brew­ing in the back­ground for weeks or months. Air­bus in par­tic­u­lar has used the events for brag­ging rights, tal­ly­ing its over­all haul at the end of each show and com­par­ing its wins with those of Boe­ing.

Be­fore the Wataniya deal, Air­bus found it­self in the un­usual sit­u­a­tion of not hav­ing a sin­gle buyer af­ter two days, with just two days left to avoid its big­gest com­mer­cial hu­mil­i­a­tion in years. The com­pany typ­i­cally ex­cels at air shows, hav­ing per­fected the art of the air­craft deal un­der long­time Sales Chief John Leahy, who rel­ishes clinch­ing last­minute ac­cords and count­ing up gains at the ex­pense of Boe­ing.

With Leahy set to step down in com­ing months, that care­fully honed chore­og­ra­phy is fac­ing an un­cer­tain fu­ture.

The chang­ing for­tunes were on dis­play on the open­ing day of the event Sun­day, when Air­bus had planned to make its de­but with the A380 order.

In­stead, Boe­ing stole the lime­light with a $15.1 bil­lion deal from Emi­rates for its 787 Dream­liner, fol­lowed shortly there­after with a fol­low-up ac­cord with Azer­bai­jan Air­lines.

Boe­ing ex­tended its run Tues­day, win­ning a fol­low-up order from Ethiopian Air­lines for ad­di­tional 777 freighter mod­els. Bom­bardier Inc. also an­nounced a deal for its C Se­ries from Egyp­tAir.

Wataniya, based in Kuwait, serves des­ti­na­tions in­clud­ing Beirut or Baku in Azer­bai­jan with its two air­craft.

When asked what was be­hind the holdup with an Air­bus order, Emi­rates Pres­i­dent Tim Clark said Air­bus needs to show greater com­mit­ment to the A380, whose fu­ture has been thrown into doubt as the order book for the gi­ant air­craft dries up.

This year’s air show has lacked the ur­gency of pre­vi­ous years, when Emi­rates and its Gulf ri­vals Qatar Air­ways and Eti­had Air­ways PJCS worked up order frenzy on open­ing day. Qatar is barred from this year’s expo amid a diplo­matic dis­pute with some of its Arab neigh­bors, while Eti­had is un­der­go­ing a dra­matic over­haul of its man­age­ment and strat­egy af­ter its al­liance of part­ner air­lines around the globe im­ploded.

This year’s air show has lacked the ur­gency of pre­vi­ous years.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lebanon

© PressReader. All rights reserved.