x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Airbus to fly highest in region

Airbus will increase its market share in the Middle East over its rival Boeing in the next decade, a report says.

Airbus will increase its market share in the Middle East over its rival Boeing in the next decade, a report says. The number of Airbus planes among airlines in the MENA region will more than double from 438 last year to 967 by 2019, driven by a large increase in deliveries of A320 aircraft, data from Flightglobal Insight shows.

"The Middle East represents a good chunk of our market," said Habib Fekih, the president of Airbus Middle East. The region accounts for 20 per cent of the French plane maker's current deliveries, or more than 100 direct sales and leased planes this year, Mr Fekih said. Boeing will see the number of its aircraft in operation climb in the MENA region from 360 last year to 703 planes by the end of the decade. The deliveries will primarily be for the its single-aisle 737 and its two long-haul, wide-body aircraft, the 777 and 787 Dreamliner.

Sales of the 777 in particular have benefited Boeing, said Saj Ahmad, the chief analyst at FBE Aerospace. "The Boeing wide-bodies command much more revenue through their stronger price and higher aftermarket residuals," Mr Ahmad said. The UAE, home to some of the world's fastest-growing carriers such as Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, flydubai and Air Arabia, accounts for the largest share of MENA-based aircraft.

Some 284 aircraft are in use by those Emirati airlines, as well as air cargo companies and private jet operators, and make up about a quarter of the total number of aircraft in the region. This position is expected to continue over the next decade as the airlines receive more than 300 new short and long-range aircraft in their bid to make the Emirates a global air transit hub. The sale of wide-body planes, which are more profitable for aircraft makers, is expected to rise in the second half of the decade for both Boeing and Airbus as they begin deliveries of their new, state-of-the-art twin-engine jets, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the A350 XWB.

Beginning from zero in 2012, the two companies will deliver almost 280 of the two types in the region by 2019. For Airbus, MENA sales of the A350 represent 47 per cent of its overall orders. The report by Flightglobal Insight reveals how Boeing and Airbus dominate the Middle East aircraft market. Only Embraer of Brazil is supplying the regional markets with 80 to 100-seat planes, with its E-Jets family of planes for which there have been 53 orders.

But recently Bombardier has said it believed Qatar Airways could be its third customer for its new CSeries narrow-bodied aircraft, which uses new engine technology called the "geared turbofan" to deliver fuel efficiency improvements. Altogether, the region will account for 1,813 aircraft by 2019, almost double the 922 present last year. Saudi Arabia has the second-largest fleet of aircraft, although a large proportion are private jets bought from Boeing and Airbus - including the only order for an Airbus A380 superjumbo for the Saudi royal family

The kingdom is home to 14 per cent of the regional fleet, or 158 aircraft, Flightglobal data show. Coming third is Iran, although the country will face challenges as it deals with fleet renewals. "Its 10 per cent share is unlikely to grow as its largely 1970s-era fleet ages and breaks down in the face of economic sanctions from much of the West," the Flightglobal report said. "The nation has been turning to Russia to meet its airliner needs."

Egypt, with its large population and active tourism industry, is fourth with 8 per cent of the fleet followed by Qatar, the flag carrier of which, Qatar Airways, is one of the world's fastest growing carriers. Other tourism centres complete the list, including Morocco, Jordan and Tunisia, the report said. igale@thenational.ae