Look for Farnborough to host major widebody aircraft sales to Emirates and Qatar Airways as Middle East seeks to becomes world hub

FARNBOROUGH, England, 8 July 2010. The Farnborough International Airshow this month should see large-scale commercial jetliner and commercial jet engine orders from Emirates and Qatar Airways as the two major international airlines seek to establish themselves as the predominant cargo and passenger carriers in the Middle East, which is becoming a global commerce hub.

Emirates ordered 32 Airbus A380 super-jumbo jets at the ILA Berlin Air Show last month to increase its A380 fleet to 90 aircraft. Such an announcement was unusual at the low-profile event, and could set the stage for even more high-profile aircraft and jet engine orders from Emirates this month at Farnborough, says Max Sukkhasantikul, commercial aviation consulting analyst at the market research firm Frost & Sullivan in London.

Emirates is on a non-stop growth quest, and Qatar Airways intends to be the next-door competitor with the potential to join Star Alliance, Sukkhasantikul points out. These two carriers are expected to place the most orders for widebody aircraft at Farnborough, he says.

Commercial jet engine maker Rolls-Royce Group plc in London also may have sales news to announce at Farnborough. Sir Maurice Flanagan, the Emirates executive vice chairman, was knighted earlier this year for his services to British Exports, and Emirates may buy more products at the show that support the British economy, Sukkhasantikul says.

Dubai World Central (DWC), an urban aviation community surrounding the world’s largest airport, DWC-Al Maktoum International Airport, has opened for cargo flights, and the United Arab Emirates is eager show the world that the commercial aviation economic downturn is over. This could mean Emirates airways has big plans for the future, which could at least partially become clear at Farnborough.

DWC is being built about 25 miles from the existing Dubai International Airport (DXB), and is almost twice the size of Hong Kong Island. DWC is intended to transform the United Arab Emirates and the surrounding region into one of the most powerful global centers for commerce and tourism.

DWC and Emirates Airlines have a symbiotic relationship, Sukkhasantikul says, and Emirates is in a position to link the world through its hub, and makes no secret of its intention to do so. The backlog of nearly 200 aircraft orders to add to its existing fleet of 149 confirms the company's ambition to connect every major city in the world via Dubai, Sukkhasantikul says.

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