September 2022, Virtual
September 29 2022, Virtual
Now in its 27th year, the Business Travel Awards
Our regular contributor Alison Chambers has been of on her travels again, this time to the Gulf region.
The ninth Dubai Air Show was staged last week, playing host in the brilliant sunshine to a record 726 exhibitors from 46 countries and 15 national pavilions, including debut appearances from Austria, Turkey and India. Traditionally this trade exhibition has been largely defence-orientated. No longer. Most of the stars were the newest commercial airliners, including Airbus A380, delighting crowds with a daily flying display in the colours of its ME launch customer Emirates. Mike Vines took this atmosphere picture.
Of the 100 aircraft on show, 40 were business jets, reflecting the strong growth the business aviation sector is experiencing in the region. Raytheon Beechcraft brought its six-strong family of aircraft; Piaggio Aero Industries its distinctive looking and newly-EASA certificated Avanti II. For good measure it combined its static showing with two stunning red Ferraris (in tribute to the company”s ownership) which drew in the crowd. Abu Dhabi-based executive jet operator Royal Jet, which was at the show to announce a series of orders, also displayed a sleek Rolls-Royce alongside its executive aircraft, including a newly accepted Bombardier Challenger 300. Dubai is this sort of affair. Much discreet corporate hospitality was conducted in the Royal Pavilion, where the green carpet along the chalet line (to replicate grass) turns to red. The whole feel of Dubai Show hospitality is rather like the Royal enclosure at Ascot. It is elegant and compact, with colourful and flavourful cuisine being served in the chalets, whose exhibitors included Qatar Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways and Embraer, which was displaying the Embraer 175.
Hard on the heels of a record $10bn deal from Emirates for 42 additional Boeing 777s, a contract personally signed by HH General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum (see ABTN last week), other orders came thick and fast. Airbus and Lufthansa Technik heralded commitments for five A319 Corporate 'Elite' aircraft, plus five options from Jeddah-based executive jet operator National Jet Services. The new Elites will feature VIP cabins from LHT, which enjoyed an exceptionally strong show as it moves into pole position to build the first VVIP A380 for a Middle East customer. NAS President Mohammed Al Zeer also disclosed his ambition to pioneer low cost airline services in the Middle East, using an initial five A320 aircraft flying from Saudi Arabia”s Jeddah, Riyadh and Damman Airports from summer next year.
In a major vote of confidence for the turboprop, India's fastest growing carrier, the UB Group's Kingfisher Airlines announced a $350m deal with ATR for 20 ATR72-500s, plus options on 15 more. By March 2006, Kingfisher will have six in service. Chairman and Managing Director Dr Vijay Mallya congratulated ATR President Filippo Bagnato on his hard negotiations. "They wore us down, but we have a good result ” on both sides." he said. Dr Mallya conceded that the decision to go with ATR aircraft would come as a surprise ”because people associate us with flying trunk (metro) routes.” The ATRs will be used to fly from secondary cities in India to cities of economic wealth and will also provide feeder services to the seven Airbus A320s Kingfisher currently flies, serving hubs at Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta and Bangalore. Kingfisher, which has achieved a 6.1% market share since it started flying six months ago, will also introduce its popular inflight entertainment system on the ATRs, a first for turboprop aircraft flying on scheduled passenger services. "Our IFE system is a key differentiator for us," he said. The deal takes ATR's record selling year to 90 new aircraft deals and it is clear that in the Middle East market certainly ATR is capitalising on being part of the EADS family. A day later and Kingfisher”s flamboyant chairman was back, this time to announce 30 more Airbus A320s. Jazeera Airways of Kuwait also signed for six more Airbus A320s to increase its fleet of the type to ten.
Meanwhile, Boeing”s order book was boosted by a $2.7bn deal with ILFC for 20 Boeing 787s for delivery from January 2010 and Boeing Business Jets president Steven Hill announced the company was launching a bigger version of the Boeing Business Jet. The BBJ3 will be based on the larger 737-900ER, first hinted at during the EBACE Show in Geneva in May this year. The BBJ3, offering 35% more cabin space than the standard BBJ, is specifically targeted for the Middle East market and will be available from summer 2008. Abu Dhabi-based Royal Jet, which also confirmed its new status as a partner in Bombardier”s SkyJet International charter programme, confirmed it was increasing its BBJ fleet to seven, to become the aircraft”s largest customer. It also announced it was introducing a BAE Systems Avro RJ70, ex-Azzurrair of Italy, which it will operate under management. Currently with flyBE Aviation Services at Exeter where it will undergo maintenance, it will fly to Geneva to be fitted for a 30-40 seat VIP interior by Jet Aviation, VP sales and marketing Ammar Balkar confirmed. Continued prosperity in the Gulf States means there will be an increased use of private air charter he believes. Bombardier Skyjet International managing director Judith Moreton highlighted that the region has accounted for almost one third of new business jet deliveries over the last five years and the manufacturer has seen its market share in the region increase to 19%. Nearly 400 business jets are flying the Middle East.
Bombardier Aerospace also drew interest with its new C Series cabin mock-up, displayed at the show for the first time. ”We have received every airline in the Middle East, with the exception of Emirates,” noted Gary Scott, president, New Commercial Aircraft Programme. Having determined a new centreline engine from P&WC, yet to be named, Scott is hopeful that the manufacturer will shortly be able to take a launch decision on the new 110 to 130-seat new RJ family, which is being readied for 2010. The C Series has the range to serve all of Europe, southern Russia and West Asia and with the new focus on low cost services in the Middle East its economics are going to be very appealing, he says. Bombardier is looking for one or two ”quality” customers as launch criteria and Scott insists that the company has broad interest from airlines from all around the world, several of whom ”are in the pipeline.” This includes Northwest Airlines of the US, now in Chapter 11, which has publicly stated it is eyeing the C Series as a viable replacement for its 140-plus ageing DC-9s. In response to comments from its airline advisory board, Bombardier, together with C & D Aerospace, is making the roomy cabin, even bigger by further raising the cabin ceiling. The overhead baggage bins are considerably generous offering 2.6 cubic feet per passenger and on a par with the bins you see in an A340 or 777. A bigger aisle will enable a walk around baggage cart, says Scott, who with 29 years in senior positions at Boeing, including developing the new generation 737, is well prepared for his new challenge. ”Boeing has selected not to go lower than 130-seats, so there is plenty of room for us,” he says. Target market, in addition to the 1,000 DC-9s flying around the world is the ”classic” 737s, Avro RJs and Fokker 100s. Bombardier is also seeing success for the Q400 in the Middle East with first customer Royal Jordanian Xpress about to accept its second 72-seat turboprop.