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By Howard Wheeldon, FRAeS, Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd.

17 Nov 13. With over one thousand different exhibitors the 2013 Dubai Airshow is not only busy, active and the place to be if ‘West’ wants to meet ‘East’ in terms of measuring up the competition and opening doors to new business but I am told that this year it also has a terrific feel of excitement and newness about it.

That’s hardly surprising because Dubai 2013 is being held aside a brand new airport that may well be the largest anywhere in the world. These days’ biennial airshow events be they Dubai, Farnborough, Paris and others tend to be judged by the number and value of order announcements. I might wish otherwise but If that is the case then the 2009 and 2011 Dubai events could be considered as rather less than successful. Not the 2013 show though as the first day of what is a five day show has seen some of the largest and most valuable ever orders for commercial aircraft being announced.

No surprise either that with the Dubai Airshow being held on its own home territory orders from Emirates Airlines for hundreds of new planes is further confirmation that in terms of forward strategy the largest airline in the Middle East is determined to lead by example. By whatever standards you measure this the orders from Emirates Airlines for an additional 50 Airbus A380 superjumbo aircraft, for 150 of the Boeing 777X are more than enough to confirm that this huge, powerful and very successful airline that is run by the formidable Tim Clark is not just a cut above the rest but also one that is destined very soon to be the most important airline in the world.

Emirates isn’t the only airline that has been busy signing off new orders at the Dubai Air Show this morning as Qatar Airlines ordered 56 Boeing 777X aircraft and took options for another 26. Qatar also announced that it would expand its freighter aircraft fleet by ordering 13 Airbus A330F. Meanwhile, Etihad Airlines, an already large and still fast growing Middle East airline based in Abu Dhabi ordered 50 Airbus A350XWB planes plus 36 Airbus A320 NEO’s, one Airbus A330F and 25 of the newly launched Boeing 777X variant.

True, Emirates Airlines is wholly owned by the Government of Dubai just as Etihad is owned by the Government of Abu Dhabi and Qatar is the state owned airline of its government too. ‘Flydubai’ is also owned by the same government shareholder as Emirates. For these whilst the achievement of growth can only occur off the back of a well planned and executed strategy the ease at which the new breed of state owned airlines has been able to secure funds to expand makes comparison with western airlines who are forced to play on a rather different playing field of little worth. Competition they are though and increasingly so and for those interested and wish to know more about the forward strategy of Emirates I recommend that you read an IATA interview published last year with Emirates CEO Tim Clark under the title ‘Emirates Airline Make It Happen (http://www.iata.org/publications/airlines-international/june-2012/Pages/ceo-interview-emirates.aspx).

Back in Dubai and not to be outdone in yet another mega deal that was announced at the show ‘flydubai’ ordered 100 Boeing 737MAX aircraft plus another 11 of the current 737-800 version of the plane. This as I say is only day one of the show but more than enough to suggest that the man who last week said that ‘with the majority of anticipated order announcements this year probably already made the Dubai Air Show might be a bit quieter than usual this year’ should be taken out and shot!

The raft of order announcements for the Boeing 777X are particularly good news for the Chicago based aircraft manufacturer as they get the newest version of the fine 777 family of aircraft off to a very good start. This means that with the latest orders announced together with the September announcement that Lu

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