Dubai Airshow 2011

Boeing and Airbus Battle Heats Up in Dubai


The perennial war of words between Boeing and Airbus heated up with both sides accusing the other of delivery delays as the crowds gathered for the opening day of the Dubai Airshow on Sunday.

Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental
Getty Images

Sources at Boeing, which is dominating the runway this year with the 787 Dreamliner, told me the Middle East market is "777 Heaven" and that it hopes to take advantage of delays to Airbus’s rival A350 aircraft. One source claimed that the 777 is the perfect plane for the Middle East, and argued that its range and number of seats allow the likes of Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways to service routes into Asia and Europe.

The A350 has been delayed by one year so far and is now having to play catch up with Boeing 777. Over 500 A350s have been ordered so far. As anyone in the aerospace industry will tell you, orders are not the problem, but delivering on those orders. The 777 might have stolen the A350's thunder for the moment but the time it is taking to deliver either plane means more orders have been cancelled than are placed in 2011 with delivery times expected to increase over the coming years.

Airbus sources react by highlighting delays to the Dreamliner.

"I see the 7-late-7 finally made it to Dubai," said one source in reference to the much delayed plane. Airbus flagship plane A380 made its debut at the 2007 Dubai Airshow and is already flying across the world.

Despite the banter both Boeing and Airbus are experiencing problems many other industries would love to have. At a time when the euro zone is in crisis and growth expectations across the developed world are falling, too many orders and a race to deliver on those orders as demand from the Middle East and Asia continues to fly higher don’t seem too bad.