The Dubai Airshow, the largest aviation trade event to be held since the pandemic, will kick off in Dubai on Sunday.
Two major European shows, the Paris Airshow in Le Bourget in 2021 and the Farnborough International Airshow in the United Kingdom in 2020, have been cancelled, creating an opportunity for the aerospace industry to come together after two difficult years.
The biennial Dubai Airshow is known for breaking records and signing multibillion-dollar commercial aircraft deals between airlines and manufacturers, but this year’s edition is expected to be different.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) does not expect “many large aircraft orders” at the upcoming Dubai Airshow.
“I’m not aware of any major announcements that are likely to be made, and certainly the CEOs that I’ve spoken to have taken a cautious approach,” Willie Walsh, Director-General of IATA, said last week at a media briefing.
The occurrence occurs as the airline industry’s financially battered industry begins to emerge from the pandemic, looking to rebuild flight networks and review fleet plans – as they phase out older, less fuel-efficient aircraft.
The show will also draw a large number of defence companies, with 20 countries, including Brazil, Russia, France, and Israel, erecting their own country pavilions. The event will feature 1,200 exhibitors and at least 160 commercial and military aircraft on the tarmac, according to organisers.
Boeing to make a debut
Much of the focus will be on Boeing’s long-delayed 777X jet, which will make its international debut at the event. The aircraft was supposed to enter service in 2019, but due to several delays, the manufacturer has pushed the date back to late 2023 at the earliest.
The launch customer, Dubai-based Emirates, has repeatedly chastised Boeing for the twin-engine jumbo’s delay. It issued a warning last month that the uncertainty would cause significant disruption for one of the world’s largest carriers. Sir Tim Clark, the President of Emirates, stated that he did not know when the first of the 777X jets ordered by the company would arrive.
During the event, Boeing and Emirates will hold discussions about the aircraft’s delivery. Emirates placed a mega order for 777X jets, as well as 30 787 Dreamliner wide-body jets, as part of its strategy to replace the current 777 jets that serve as the backbone of its wide-body fleet. However, due to delays in the new aircraft’s debut, the airline’s chief executive, Sheikh Ahmed, has stated that it is now considering exchanging some of its 777X jets on order for smaller 787 Dreamliners.
Emirates is not the first client to want to reduce the size of its initial order. Boeing has suffered as a result of the aircraft’s delay, with orders for the 777X falling from 309 in 2019 to 191 a year later. The aircraft was also ordered by Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, and Cathay Pacific.
According to Boeing, the 777X will be the world’s largest and most efficient twin-engine jet, delivering 10% lower fuel use, emissions, and operating costs than competitors.
The aerospace trade show also takes place at a time when oil prices are rising, with prices hovering around $80 per barrel, posing additional challenges for the airline industry.
Aviation fuel accounts for roughly one-quarter of an airline’s total cost. Analysts warn that the continuous rise in oil prices may stymie carriers’ efforts to recover.