Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 11 December 2019

Dubai Airshow: Boeing and Airbus kept in suspense over big jet deals

Emirates wants to reduce an order for 150 Boeing 777Xs after deliveries were pushed back by a year

Emirates wants to reduce an order for 150 Boeing 777X after deliveries were pushed back by a year and may use at least part of the 787 order as leverage.Karim Sahib / AFP
Emirates wants to reduce an order for 150 Boeing 777X after deliveries were pushed back by a year and may use at least part of the 787 order as leverage.Karim Sahib / AFP

Airbus and Boeing fought to save billions of dollars of jet deals on Sunday as host airline Emirates kept the Dubai Airshow in suspense over dozens of tentative orders.

The world's top jet manufacturers are trying to win final approval for more than $30 billion (Dh110.1m) in orders from Emirates, which have been on hold for up to two years as the UAE airline protests about industrial delays.

Interlocking deals involving 110 Boeing 787s, Airbus A330neos and A350s are up for grabs, but it remains unclear whether there was room for all them in Emirates' revised fleet, delegates said.

Emirates wants to reduce an order for 150 Boeing 777Xs after deliveries were pushed back by a year and may use at least part of the 787 order as leverage.

It also has a total of 70 A330neo and A350 orders pending as part of a deal prompted by Airbus's recent decision to axe the slow-selling A380, for which Emirates was the biggest supporter.

The plans involve reshaping the fleet to adapt to demand for shorter regional flights but delegates said they could not rule out a repeat of 2017 when an air show deal was postponed.

"It feels like two years ago. It is hard to predict," a senior industry source said.

Negotiations to finalise the orders dragged into Sunday evening after a muted start to the five-day show with only two planes ordered, for Biman Bangladesh Airlines, delegates said.

All of the parties declined to comment.

In an interview with German publication aero.de on the eve of the show, Emirates boss Tim Clark said he would not place orders and complained about widespread delivery delays.

Boeing, meanwhile, continued to adopt a contrite tone over the grounding of its 737 Max after two crashes.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, UAE Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, visited Boeing's stand while inaugurating the show.

Airbus is poised to clinch a deal for as many as 120 A320neos from Air Arabia, while Air Senegal will take A220s, delegates said. Bloomberg said the Senegal deal involved eight jets.

Possible regional targets for Boeing's Max include Turkey's SunExpress, which flies earlier 737s. The airline is co-owned by Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines.

"We are trusting and doing business with Boeing and that is indicated by signing these two new 787-9s," said Biman chairman Muhammad Bari.

Ethiopian Airlines, one of two involved in the Max crashes that led to the grounding, declined to say whether it would continue to take delivery of the jet but signed a deal to retrofit its 787 fleet with in-flight internet.

Defence exhibits featured missiles and anti-drone systems, and a new Saab surveillance plane for the UAE.

Updated: November 18, 2019 11:22 AM

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