This Sunday, the last of this year’s big air shows kicks off with the first day of Dubai Air Show 2019. Airinsight will be covering the news, but what can we expect?

Flashback to 2017: at what looked like an uneventful show turned to be quite a big one, with sales of $113.8 billion on civil and military aircraft and systems. On the commercial side, the biggest surprise was a 430-aircraft blockbuster deal from Indigo Partners with Airbus on the final day. Boeing had the edge over Airbus during the first days, announcing an MoU from Emirates for 40 787-10s, an order for 175 firm and 50 options for the MAX from flydubai, and deals with Kuwaiti lessor ALAFCO for more MAX 8s. Bombardier signed an LoI with Egyptair for 12 CS300s plus 12 options.

Two years on, and some deals need completion. Emirates CEO Sir Tim Clark told Airinsight in September that he is still interested in getting the 787 (-10s and -9s), just as he is willing to confirm the deal for 40 Airbus A330-900s and 30 A350-900s announced last February. But Clark was also clear that Emirates wants the airframers and engine makers (in particular Rolls-Royce) to get their act together and deliver a product that is sound and reliable.
There is nothing that indicates that much has happened since September, so it seems unlikely that Clark or his boss Sheikh Ahmed will finalize the orders during the Dubai Air Show. On the contrary: Rolls-Royce said last week it needs more time to fix the 1000 TEN high-pressure turbine blade issue until 2021.

Again, you never know with Emirates. Nobody saw the 787-10 announcement coming in 2017 until they brought in a scale model of the plane into the media room, where Airbus was expecting to confirm an order for the A380. The sight of both Airbus and Boeing media teams unsure of what was to happen was one of the most unusual things I witnessed at an air show.

Air Arabia-order most likely
An order that most likely will be announced will come from Air Arabia. Already at its HY1-results presentation, the Sharjah-based low-cost carrier said it would order additional aircraft during Q3 or Q4. Since then, it has announced its joint venture with Etihad for a dedicated low-cost airline to operate of Abu Dhabi and needs planes for this. With an all-Airbus fleet – including the first leased A321LRs – the European airframer is in pole position to clinch a deal.

Egyptair has tentatively scheduled a media event on signing ceremony with Airbus on Sunday afternoon, plus another event with lessor AerCap on Monday. This could indicate the airline is in the buying mood, possibly to convert its options for 12 A220s (yes, the world has changed…) into firm orders.

Embraer is keeping its cards to its chest but says there could be some ‘interesting’ news in Dubai. The Brazilian company is eager to win back its Middle-East lost order when Kuwait’s Wataniya Airways went of service and 10 E195-E2s had to be deleted from the books. Embraer is eager to expand its position in the region. The company will also do a briefing with Boeing on the KC-390 transporter that will be part of a separate joint-venture between the two companies.

De Havilland goes Dubai
Dubai will also see the presence of De Havilland Canada, which will be showcasing the Dash 8-400. The newly formed company hopes to capture the attention of the Middle East-regionals. Two media events are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, but it’s not sure of these include commercial announcements. The same goes for ATR that has a market briefing planned on Tuesday. With a strong portfolio at UAE-lessor DAE, the turboprop company must be looking for more opportunities.

The Russians are also there, with Rostec showing its military programs, but not present is the -300. Two years ago Rostec said it was exploring options with the UAE-government to jointly develop the bigger -400, but since then it has been very quiet on this.

With a fair number of the rich and wealthy living in or near Dubai, the air show traditionally has its fair share of business and VIP-jets on stand which gives is a combined flavor of IBACE and the Paris of Farnborough air shows.

Airliners on display at the Airbus A220-300 from Egyptair, an A320neo from Salam Air, the A330-900 and A350-900 test aircraft, and A380 from Emirates, and an ACJ319. Boeing displays a 787-9 in factory livery, an Etihad 787-9 and an Emirates 777-300ER. There will also be a mock-up of the 777X-cabin. With the MAX grounded, the type is lacking on the static display. De Havilland will showcase a Jambojet Dash 8-400. No details are available about ATR and Embraer.

Dubai Air Show will also feature a number of conferences about cargo, air traffic control, smart and space, the last topic of great interest to the UAE since their first countryman went into space recently.

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