By Parker Davis
Dubai Airshow Recap: Days 1 and 2
The Dubai Airshow this week is bringing the aviation community back together in a way not seen since before the Covid-19 pandemic took hold of the world in early 2020. Industry leaders in aircraft manufacturing, airline and aircraft servicers, commercial airlines, and business aviation companies are all making appearances as look to show new products, court customers, and reintroduce themselves to the world after an almost 20-month hiatus.
Sunday was relatively light on news as, after much anticipation and fanfare, the airshow got underway. The big exception, however, was Airbus, which announced it had inked a massive deal with Indigo Partners, an American private equity firm that has its hands in hundreds of markets worldwide through its portfolio of airlines.
The company — which controls Denver-based Frontier Airlines and Chilean low-cost carrier JetSmart and also is a partial owner of European low-cost carrier Wizz Air and Mexico’s Volaris — said it would acquire 255 Airbus A321neo aircraft for its airlines.
According to a joint release, Frontier will see 91 Airbus A321neos added to its fleet. Wizz Air will receive 75 A321neos and 27 A321XLRs, Airbus’s abbreviation for “extra-long range.” JetSmart will take delivery of 21 A321neos and two A321XLRs, and Volaris will add 39 A321neos.
The first day of the airshow also put Emirati airlines in the spotlight, as flag carriers Emirates and Etihad brought aircraft adorned in special liveries for flybys and static demonstrations, alike.
FlyDubai, a subsidiary of Emirates, and Sharjah, United Arab Emirates-based Air Arabia also made appearances with aircraft from their fleets, exclusively comprised of narrow-body aircraft.
Finally, Boeing’s 777X performed a flying demonstration over Al Maktoum International Airport, better known as Dubai World Central. Boeing is hoping to see more success with the aircraft this week even as the program has seen delays in recent weeks.
The manufacturer did manage to seal an order on the airshow’s first day, announcing in the afternoon that Icelease, an Icelandic aircraft lessor, had placed a firm order for 11 Boeing 737-800 Boeing Converted Freighters (BCF), passenger aircraft that have been converted for cargo operations.
Along with that announcement, Boeing said it would open a conversion line for the aircraft at Gatwick Airport in the U.K., setting Icelease as the launch customer for the new line.
Aircraft also began to roll in both for static displays and in anticipation of showcases moving into the rest of the week.
Dubai Airshow in Photos
Monday began with Boeing’s second aircraft order of the week, also in the category, as the American behemoth announced German shipping company DHL would take on nine more Boeing 767-300BCFs in the coming years. The company already owns seven of the type.
Also in the freighter category, Boeing said hometown carrier Emirates would order two additional Boeing 777F aircraft.
Despite those two victories for Boeing, Airbus seemed to have won the day again, as the Toulouse, France-based manufacturer announced another massive order, this time with American aircraft lessor Air Lease Corporation (ALC).
ALC’s order ran the gamut of Airbus aircraft, with the company saying it would add 25 Airbus A220-300s, 55 A321neos, 20 A321XLRs, four Airbus A330neos and seven Airbus A350 freighters to its fleet. ALC Executive Chairman Steven Udvar-Hazy said the deal was reflective of the anticipated recovery of the industry in the years ahead.
“ALC was the launch customer for the very popular A321LR and XLR versions,” Udvar-Hazy said in a statement. “Now, we become the launch lessor for the A350F and by far the largest lessor customer for the A220. We had the vision to be first adopters of the A321 and are convinced we have made the right choice again on the A220 and A350F, responding to what we see the market will need in the period of recovery ahead.”
Airbus Chief Executive Officer Guillaume Faury said at the show that the A350F has the potential to become the first aircraft to be flown by a single pilot in the years ahead.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates-based carrier Etihad Airways also showed off a new business class product as other airlines and manufacturers from around the world showed off their aircraft, interiors and new offerings.
All photos by AirlineGeeks photographer William Derrickson.