If the number of people on the premises of Dubai Air Show 2019 is something to go for, this year’s edition had a busier start than two years ago. However, the first day of the event lacked the vibrant multi-billion dollar announcements seen at the previous three editions. And that’s an understatement.

Both Airbus and Boeing were keeping a low-profile, as was local ‘host’ Emirates. “Nothing definitive, you know how these things are going”, was the pr-speak heard more than once.
In fact, Airbus didn’t announce orders on Day 1 themselves, which was a copy-paste of the first day of 2017-show. Its only media events were the unveiling of the full-electric Air Race E and the Middle East market forecast, which is to grow in the UAE from 630 now to some 1.730 in 2038. That includes 754 small, 185 medium and 791 large airliners. The ME-region will see a fleet of 3.520 airliners in the next twenty years, of which 1.080 are for replacement and 2.160 for growth.
Also announced was a strengthening of its Dubai-based customer services organization from January 2020 with 20 additional staff, bringing total workforce total 105.

Airbus did find itself a new A321neo-customer when lessor GECAS announced early evening it had placed two LRs  with Oman’s low-cost airline Salam Air. The aircraft are from a previous order from the GE-subsidiary, which has 104 A321neo’s on order and by late October had taken of 18. Salam Air operates a fleet of 3 ’s and 4 A320neo’s with 2 more on order. Deliveries are next year.

Another A321LR will join TCS World Travel in a low-density, ACJ-configuration for luxurious flights.

Boeing sells to Biman
Boeing announced an order from Biman Bangladesh for 2 787-9s, joining four -8s already in service for some time. The order is valued at $585 million in list prices and has been in the Boeing book since October as an undisclosed firm order. Biman plans to use the aircraft to grow its network to Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

Like Airbus, Boeing gave an update of the regional market outlook. It foresees deliveries of 3.130 new aircraft to the Middle East, including 1.620 single-aisle, 1.440 widebodies, and 50 full freighters. President of marketing Randy Tinseth only briefly mentioned the MAX, which is totally absent from both the Boeing pavilion and static display. Downplaying recent suggestions that Boeing is pushing regulators for a swift re-certification of the MAX, Tinseth said: “If the aircraft is certified before the end of the year crew training will start early next year. But the schedule of return to service is only determined by the regulators.”

Boeing also announced that Ethiopian has contracted the airframer for a connectivity retrofit on its 787-fleet, plus a 5-year agreement with Saudia Airlines for a navigational charting service renewal. Boeing also announced an agreement with Egyptair on landing gear and engines MRO for the Middle East-region.

Embraer’s John Slattery signs order for 3 additional E195-E2 for Air Peace. (Richard Schuurman)

Double deals for Embraer
Embraer started the show with two commercial announcements. Nigeria’s Air Peace signed a follow-on order for three E195-E2s, in addition to the ten already on order. At $212.6 million in list prices, the aircraft will be used to grow the airline’s fast-growing network within Africa. Passengers will be offered a 2-class, 124-seat cabin that includes the staggered business class configuration – a first on an Embraer.

CCO Arjan Meijer is more than pleased that Air Peace joins three other airlines in ordering additional aircraft even before they have received their first E2. Azul did it, like Spain’s Binter and only last week KLM. “It is a new trend that confirms these airlines like the aircraft even before experiencing them for themselves.”

Egyptian lessor CIAF Leasing signed an order for 3 E190s worth $161.4 million in list prices for delivery in Q4 2020. The lessor already has three E170s in its fleet that fly with Jasmin Air and Air Cairo, while this month it will take delivery of 2 E195s. With three E1-models, CIAF will be able to offer airlines a wider range of options for wet and dry leasing. Embraer is set to announce another order on Tuesday.

GE silent on A350 GEnx
On the sidelines of Day 1, General Electric said it isn’t willing to say anything on media reports that it is in talks with Airbus about offering an updated GEnx for the A350. Which is funny, as program manager Jim Leister told ShowNews GE is having a dialogue with Airbus without any decisions. The GEnx could be an alternative to the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB if Airbus decides to do an A350neo in the mid-20s.

GE announced it has agreed with Sanad Aerotech in Abu Dhabi to become the regional service center for up to 217 CFM LEAPs as well as for 315 GEnx-engines from next January. Sanad is a Mubadala Investment Company-owned subsidiary, which has a growing aviation portfolio that includes STRATA Manufacturing in Al Ain.

With Boeing and Airbus executives seen arriving and walking around at the show for what must have been a raft of customer discussions, don’t be surprised there will be announcements in the next couple of days.

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