Emirates, the Dubai state airline, will not alter its huge orders for new aeroplanes because of the Dubai debt situation, the group vice chairman said. Maurice Flanagan, also the founding chief executive of Emirates in 1985, gave a bullish assessment of the carrier's future on the same day that industry figures showed Middle East carriers continued to lead the world in growth.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said passenger demand in October rose 14.3 per cent for the region's airlines. Globally, demand rose by less than 1 per cent in the same period. Emirates, like other regional airlines including Etihad and Qatar Airways, have gradually acquired a greater share of the international long-haul market, using the Gulf as a transit point between East and West.
But like other businesses owned by the Dubai Government, it does not have an explicit sovereign guarantee covering its debts and obligations. This has led to concern among shareholders of Airbus, the aircraft maker that counts Emirates as its largest customer. Mr Flanagan told Bloomberg News that Dubai's leaders were unlikely to cancel purchases while Emirates continued to make money, and that the carrier had a detailed business plan for expanding its fleet.
"We're not being stupid about it," he said. "We don't order aircraft without knowing what to do with them." John Leahy, the Airbus sales chief, told Reuters that the company did not expect changes to the huge orders from Emirates. "We have complete faith in Emirates," Mr Leahy said. "They are current in all their contractual commitments with Airbus and we are confident that they will remain so. "We expect [the Emirates chief executive] Tim Clark and his team to continue their growth strategy, and we want to be part of that bright future."
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