Dubai Air Show opens with Emi­rates’ $15.1B Boe­ing buy

Starkville Daily News - - BUSINESS - By JON GAM­BRELL and AYA BA­TRAWY As­so­ci­ated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emi­rates (AP) — Long-haul car­rier Emi­rates pur­chased 40 Amer­i­can-made Boe­ing 787-10 Dream­lin­ers on Sun­day at the start of the bi­en­nial Dubai Air Show, a $15.1 bil­lion deal cer­tain to please U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump who has touted the plane’s sales as a job cre­ator in Amer­ica.

The deal ap­peared to sur­prise Boe­ing’s archri­val Air­bus, whose staff had at­tended a long-de­layed news con­fer­ence and left the room just mo­ments be­fore the an­nounce­ment.

Air­bus has pinned hopes of con­tin­u­ing pro­duc­tion of its dou­ble-decker jumbo jet on Emi­rates, the world’s largest op­er­a­tor of the air­craft which took de­liv­ery of its 100th A380 ear­lier this month. Re­ports cir­cu­lated be­fore the air show that a ma­jor A380 sale would be com­ing.

But in­stead, Emi­rates CEO and Chair­man Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Mak­toum ex­plained how the air­line considered the Air­bus A350 and de­cided to pick the Boe­ing 787-10.

“We were com­par­ing the two ap­ples,” he said, but found that the Boe­ing 787 is “the best op­tion” for Emi­rates “given its main­te­nance and so on.”

It’s the sec­ond time Air­bus has lost out on sell­ing the A350 to Emi­rates. In June 2014, the state-owned Emi­rates can­celled an order for 70 A350s af­ter a “fleet re­quire­ment” re­view.

The Boe­ing 787-10 typ­i­cally lists for $312.8 mil­lion. De­liv­ery will be­gin in 2022.

Chicago-based Boe­ing Co. al­ready has 171 787-10s on order. Among those wait­ing for the air­craft are Abu Dhabi-based Eti­had.

The twin-en­gine 787-10, how­ever, has been a fo­cus of Trump since he came into of­fice. In Fe­bru­ary, he vis­ited the Boe­ing plant in North Charleston, South Carolina, which man­u­fac­tures the car­bon-fiber, 330seat plane Trump de­scribed as “an amaz­ing piece of art.”

“As your pres­i­dent I’m go­ing to do ev­ery­thing I can to un­leash the power of the Amer­i­can spirit and to put our great peo­ple back to work,” Trump said at the time. “This is our mantra: Buy Amer­i­can and hire Amer­i­can.”

Sheikh Ahmed made a point to say the deal will help cre­ate more jobs, echo­ing Trump’s mantra. The deal was signed in the pres­ence of Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Mak­toum, who also serves as the United Arab Emi­rates’ prime min­is­ter and vice pres­i­dent.

“The order will take Emi­rates’ to­tal (num­ber of) wide body air­craft of the Boe­ing to 204 air­crafts, units worth over $90 bil­lion,” Sheikh Ahmed said. “This is a long-term com­mit­ment that sup­ports hun­dreds of thou­sands of jobs, not only at Boe­ing but also through­out the avi­a­tion sup­ply chain.”

Trump and the White House made no im­me­di­ate com­ment on the sale amid the pres­i­dent’s trip to the Philip­pines on Sun­day.

Emi­rates’ busi­ness has suf­fered un­der Trump’s travel bans af­fect­ing pre­dom­i­nantly Mus­lim na­tions, as well as the re­cent ban on lap­tops in air­plane cab­ins. Emi­rates said it slashed 20 per­cent of its flights to the U.S. in the wake of the re­stric­tions, though Dubai In­ter­na­tional Air­port re­mains the world’s busiest in­ter­na­tional travel hub.

Emi­rates now re­lies solely on the Air­bus 380 and the Boe­ing 777 for its flights, mak­ing it the largest op­er­a­tor of both. It now has 165 Boe­ing 777s in its fleet today.

Last week, the U.S. plane man­u­fac­turer se­cured an order val­ued at more than $37 bil­lion at list price for 300 of its sin­gle-aisle and dou­ble-aisle planes dur­ing Trump’s visit to China. Trump also was present for the sign­ing cer­e­mony last month be­tween Boe­ing and Sin­ga­pore Air­lines for 39 new air­craft, in­clud­ing 19 of the 787 Dream­liner, in a deal worth up to $14 bil­lion.

While a big sale, the Dubai Air Show opened Sun­day on what seemed to be a qui­eter note. The only other ma­jor sale for air­plane man­u­fac­tur­ers in­volved Azer­bai­jan Air­lines, which will buy five Boe­ing 787-8s, two other freighter air­craft and land­ing gear main­te­nance from it for some $1.9 bil­lion. The UAE’s De­fense Min­istry signed a $1.6 bil­lion deal with Lock­heed Martin to up­grade dozens of its F-16 fighters.

It’s a far cry from 2013, when air­lines made $140 bil­lion in new or­ders be­fore the col­lapse of global oil prices. Prices have re­bounded re­cently to around $60 a bar­rel.

Other air­lines than Emi­rates are tak­ing part, but miss­ing from the trade show this year is one of the re­gion’s largest long-haul car­ri­ers, Qatar Air­ways, amid a diplo­matic fall­out be­tween Qatar and four Arab na­tions. Qatar Air­ways pre­vi­ously had played a big role in the Dubai Air Show, re­serv­ing a large pav­il­ion and dis­play­ing its lat­est air­craft to vis­i­tors.

Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates, Egypt and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar in June over its ties with Iran and its sup­port of Is­lamist groups, ac­cus­ing the small Gulf state of supporting ex­trem­ists, charges it de­nies. The Arab quar­tet cut di­rect flights with Qatar and closed their airspace to Qatari air­craft.

Mean­while, Emi­rates un­veiled new, state-of-the-art, first class pri­vate suites.

In an in­dus­try first, pas­sen­ger suites in the mid­dle aisle with­out win­dows will be fit­ted with “vir­tual win­dows” re­lay­ing the sky out­side via fiber op­tic cam­eras on the plane. There’s also a video call fea­ture in the suites that con­nects pas­sen­gers to the cabin crew, as well as tem­per­a­ture con­trol and var­i­ous mood light­ing set­tings.

Emi­rates Pres­i­dent Tim Clark de­clined to say how much a ticket in the 40 square­foot (3.7-square-me­ter) pri­vate suite will cost. The pri­vate suites will be avail­able on the air­line’s Boe­ing 777.

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