Airbus dealt a blow as flydubai commits to Boeing
Boeing has begun the new year where it left off, firming up orders for 86 planes with Dubai's budget carrier flydubai in a transaction worth $8.8 billion at list prices.
The deal, based on an initial commitment for up to 100 aircraft at the Dubai Airshow last November, includes 78 737 MAX 8s and 11 next-generation 737-800s, with an option for 25 an additional 737 MAXs. It represents the largest single-aisle aircraft order in the Middle East for the company.
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Flydubai's fleet expansion was eyed by Airbus as well, with the carrier having said it was considering both options last summer. The latest announcement underscores the airline's preference to stick with an all-Boeing fleet to service the 66 destinations it currently flies to as well as new routes in the future.
CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith, who has led the airline since it launched in the summer of 2009, said in a joint statement on Tuesday that Boeing the agreement signified "the maturing of the airline and the strength of our business model as well as support flydubai's ambitious growth".
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It's particularly painful for Airbus following a Dubai Airshow dominated by a Gulf airline spending spree on primarily Boeing aircraft. A total of 225 orders were sealed for the firm's twin-isle, next-generation 777X from the likes of Emirates Airline, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways.
The substantial order placed by Gulf carriers was made possible not only as a result of financial muscle, but new infrastructure falling into place. Al-Maktoum International in Dubai started commercial passenger operations in October,and the superhub expects to eventually accommodate up to 160 million passenger per year. Likewise, Abu Dhabi and Doha have embarked on boosting traffic capabilities.
Last month, the International Air Transport Association IATA said it expected Middle East airlines to score net profits of $2.4 billion in 2014, up from $1.6 billion in 2013. "The region's hubs, particularly in the Gulf, continue to expand in support of growing long-haul connectivity," it added.
Also on Monday, Boeing agreed with state-owned Air Algerie in Algeria to provide eight 737-800 aircraft, worth $724 million at list prices. Meanwhile, Air Algerie also said it purchased three Airbus A330-200s.
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The initial tally of orders in 2013 in an intense battle for global plane building supremacy appears to show Boeing landed fewer orders than Airbus, but in turn delivered more planes. Airbus is scheduled to reveal its data for the past year in a news conference on January 13.