This year’s Dubai Airshow expects to soar ahead on the business front as Middle East carriers raise their passenger numbers.
The show, which is held every two years, set a record in 2007 by generating US$155 billion worth of business at the end of the five-day event.
“Because of the economic downturn we haven’t seen [a repeat of 2007] numbers but we expect to see a healthy level of deals made at the show in November,” said the new Dubai Airshow chief executive, Sharief Fahmy, who took over in June.
At the last event in 2011, where 960 exhibitors from 50 countries attended, the order book touched $63bn.
With the International Air Transport Association (Iata) expecting Middle East carriers to improve their seat factor next year and the rise of regional business hubs, Arabian Gulf carriers have orders worth billions of dollars on the cards.
In July, the low-cost airline flydubai told Bloomberg News that a race was on between the American manufacturer Boeing and its European competitor Airbus for an order worth $5bn for 50 narrow body jets. Flydubai, which is to start operating its business class on select flights from October 7, operates 30 Boeing 737s. It is considering the re-engined Boeing 737 Max and Airbus A320 neo models for its fleet, the news agency reported.
The Emirates Airline president Tim Clark was quoted as saying in May that the airline would start talks with Boeing on a potential order for the 777X aircraft.
The Dubai-based carrier, which has more than 200 aircraft in its fleet, placed the largest aircraft order in Boeing’s history at the 2011 Dubai Airshow. Emirates ordered 50 777-300ERs, worth US$18bn. Its order book stands at more than 230 aircraft, with a total value of $84bn as of November 2011.
The Brazilian aerospace player Embraer forecasts a 5 per cent year-over-year growth in revenue passenger kilometre, or money that airlines makes for carrying each passenger 1 km, over the next 20 years for the global aviation industry.
In the defence sector, which the Dubai Airshow also caters to, the Middle East is the third major player in the world.
After India and Brazil, global defence companies regard the Middle East as an important market ahead of North America, according to a McKinsey survey released in April.
The British company BAE has accounted for about 20 per cent of military sales to the Middle East so far this year, the Swiss bank UBS said this month.
Around 1,000 exhibitors have already registered for the Dubai Airshow this year, marking a 4 per cent rise in the number of exhibitors over the last event.
About 150 aircraft will be on display, including one from Genesis, the first aircraft manufacturer in the UAE, which will display a multi-role aircraft that can land on ground and water.
The event will occupy 645,000 square metres of space at its new location at Dubai World Central, more than double its space at the previous site at Dubai International Airport.