Dubai Airshow 2023 Final Recap
The Dubai Airshow 2023 has concluded after being a focal point for major aviation deals, with several airlines and lessors announcing significant orders with leading manufacturers like Airbus, Boeing, and ATR.
While the initial days of the airshow were bustling with activity and big announcements, the latter part of the event entered a quieter phase. One of the most striking trends observed during the show was the dominance of widebody aircraft in the orders, with key players like Emirates, EgyptAir, Ethiopian Airlines, flydubai, Royal Jordanian, and Royal Air Maroc opting for twin-aisle jets such as the Airbus A350-900, Boeing 777X, and various 787 models.
Interestingly, while many airlines chose to order aircraft from both Airbus and Boeing, none opted for Airbus’s largest A350 variant, the A350-1000. EgyptAir, for instance, committed only to the Airbus A350-900, alongside a leasing agreement with Air Lease Corporation (ALC) for 18 Boeing 737 MAXs, steering clear of any Boeing twin-aisle orders. In total, the widebody orders from the mentioned airlines accounted for 199 aircraft, not including Ethiopian Airlines’ options for the 787-9 but factoring in its MoU with Airbus for 11 A350-900s.
Emirates and flydubai’s significant announcements
Emirates made headlines by being the sole airline to order the 777X, with a split of 35 777-8s and 55 777-9s, adding to its existing backlog of 115 777Xs. The first deliveries to Emirates, based at Dubai International Airport (DXB), are expected in 2025, pending certification by the United States (US) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The airline also restructured its Boeing 787 order, opting for a mix of 20 787-8s and 15 787-9s. Notably, Emirates focused its communication primarily on the 777X, underlining its key role in the airline’s fleet and network strategy.
flydubai also attracted attention with its order for 787-9 aircraft, potentially taking over the same number of 787-9s initially ordered by Emirates. This move is part of flydubai’s expansion to long-haul operations, complementing its all-Boeing 737 fleet, including the Next Generation (NG) and 737 MAX families. The addition of the 787 aligns with flydubai’s strategy to optimize capacity on its routes, especially in the context of increasing slot constraints at global airports.
Few Narrowbody Orders
Contrasting with the Paris Air Show 2023, the Dubai Airshow 2023 witnessed relatively fewer narrowbody orders. SunExpress from Turkey ordered 90 737 MAX (45 options), and SCAT Airlines from Kazakhstan added eight more 737 MAXs to its fleet. The most notable narrowbody order came from Ethiopian Airlines, which committed to 20 737 MAXs with 21 options, showcasing renewed confidence in the aircraft type post-grounding.
Airbus, on the other hand, secured a single order for its narrowbody aircraft during the event, with Latvia’s airBaltic continuing its all-A220 strategy by ordering 30 of the type with 20 more options. This move reinforces airBaltic’s status as the world’s largest operator of the A220.
Boeing leads in sales over Airbus
The Dubai Airshow 2023 concluded with Boeing emerging as the clear winner in sales, overshadowing Airbus’s performance. Boeing secured a total of 246 firm orders, assuming Emirates’ rearranged 787 order is counted as new. This success contrasted sharply with Airbus’s modest tally of 66 aircraft, including an MoU that may not materialize.
Saudi Arabian Airlines’ Unexpected Silence
One surprising aspect of the event was the absence of significant orders from Saudi Arabian airlines, including SAUDIA, Riyadh Air, and flyadeal, despite expectations of announcements. Riyadh Air’s CEO Tony Douglas hinted at a narrowbody campaign conclusion prior to the airshow but later indicated a forthcoming announcement in the weeks to follow.
The largest and best edition of the Dubai Airshow to date
The Dubai Airshow 2023 has clearly been a showcase for widebody aircraft, with Boeing emerging as the dominant player. The event highlighted the strategic directions of major airlines and the evolving landscape of global aviation, particularly in the Middle East. This edition is the largest and most impressive edition to date. The 18th edition of this industry mega-event brought together key players from the aerospace and defense sectors, featuring over 1,400 exhibitors from more than 95 countries. The airshow was enriched by the insights of 350+ international leading speakers and the innovative ideas of 80+ startups.
Furthermore, 20 country pavilions showcased the global nature of the aerospace industry, collectively redefining the future of this dynamic field. The event also dazzled attendees with more than 190 aircraft on static and flying display, demonstrating the latest advancements and capabilities in aviation technology.