Boeing bonanza leaves rival Airbus in the dust at 2023 Dubai Air Show with three times more aircraft orders

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — American aerospace giant Boeing eclipsed its French rival Airbus after four days of deals at the 2023 Dubai Air Show, underlining strong demand for wide-body jets in particular and making a strong comeback after several years of underperformance following major safety scandals.

Boeing chalked up 295 aircraft orders in comparison to Airbus’ 86 orders by Day 4 of the Middle East’s largest aviation event, according to company updates and tallies from industry experts. The French manufacturer grappled with publicly aired concerns over the cost and performance of the Rolls-Royce engines on its planes.

Boeing kicked off the first day of the show with a massive order for 90 of its 777 wide-body jets from Dubai’s flagship carrier Emirates Airline at list prices of $52 billion, followed by an $11 billion order from Emirates subsidiary and low-cost carrier FlyDubai for 30 of its first-ever-ordered 787 Boeing Dreamliners.

The robust appetite for wide-body jets highlighted both Dubai’s optimistic outlook for long-haul air travel as well as the importance of the Middle East market to the aircraft model’s demand. The purchases showed Dubai flexing its muscles as a leading East-West transit hub, looking keen to defend and increase its market share amid rising competition or expansion from carriers in Turkey, India and Saudi Arabia.

A Boeing 777-X aircraft flies during the 2023 Dubai Airshow at Dubai World Central - Al-Maktoum International Airport in Dubai on November 13, 2023. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP) (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)

The Emirates order was made up of 55 additional Boeing 777-9s and 35 of its 777-8s, bringing the airline’s total orders for the 777X wide-body jets to 205 units. Emirates also updated its order of Boeing 787 Dreamliners from 30 to 35.

The significant proportion of wide-body jets at the Dubai show “reflects the surge in international travel in 2023; and it favors BA (Boeing), which is stronger than Airbus in widebodies and has snared ~50% of the Dubai dollar order value,” analysts at TD Cowen wrote in a note Wednesday.

Turkish-German airline SunExpress made the second-largest Boeing order after Emirates, comprised of 56 of its narrow-body 737-8s and 34 737-10s. Ethiopian Airlines followed with up to 41 737-8s and 26 787-9s, then FlyDubai with 30 787-9s, Kazakhstan’s SCAT Airlines with seven 737-8s, and Royal Jordanian and Royal Air Maroc with orders of four and two 787-9s, respectively.

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