Dubai Airshow 2019 wrap-up: how big was the shopping spree?

Arnold O. A. Pinto,

Biennial event Dubai Airshow 2019 closed its doors on November 21, 2019. While the event organizers highlight that this year the show attracted a record number of visitors and exhibitors, the sales were slower than two years ago. In fact, the value of orders made (or rather, announced) on site were over two times lower than two years ago. Order book on site reached $54.5 billion in 2019, while it stood at almost $113.8 billion in 2017. 

Focusing on commercial aviation, the clear winner in sales was, unsurprisingly, Airbus. The Toulouse-based manufacturer landed orders for 220 commercial passenger planes.

The deals include a firm order from U.S. lessor GECAS for 12 widebody A330neo and 20 A321XLR jetliners; by flynas (Saudi Arabian low-cost carrier) for 10 A321XLR; and Air Senegal’s agreement for eight A220-300s. 

But the headline-making news, of course, became Air Arabia’s order for 120 single-aisle A320 Family aircraft (73 A320neo, 27 A321neo and 20 A321XLR jetliners). Meanwhile, Emirates’ purchase agreement for 50 widebody A350 XWBs in the A350-900 version would have also been enough to outdo Boeing, which saw its reputation turn to shatters in 2019. 

While not signing jaw-dropping deals for hundreds of jets, Boeing did manage to use the Dubai Airshow 2019 to its advantage. The U.S. based manufacturer was making the news not by the amount of planes sold, but by the pure fact of having planes sold. This includes the notoriously famous 737 MAX. 

Boeing sold 95 commercial airplanes, valued at approximately $17.4 billion at list prices. The term “sold” here includes orders, commitments and agreements. Emirates ordered 30 787-9 Dreamliners, while Air Astana opted for (LoI) the same amount of 737 MAX 8 airplanes. Another customer not scared of the MAX label was SunExpress, which ordered eight 737 MAX 8s. One customer, who placed an order for 20 MAXs, did chose to remain anonymous, though. 

Of the smaller deals, Biman Bangladesh Airlines ordered two 787-9 Dreamliners, while the Republic of Ghana signed a memorandum of understanding for three jets of the same type. Two more Dreamliners in the -9 variant are also to go to Egyptair via a lease with AerCap. 

Interestingly, Airbus’ deal for eight A220s is seemingly more than Embraer added to its backlog of commercial passenger aircraft. The Brazilian manufacturer announced that CIAF Leasing ordered three E190s ($161.4 million list price) while Nigerian airline Air Peace converted purchase rights for three E195-E2s to firm order ($212.6 million list price). 

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