Gulf airlines to get royal treatment at Paris Air Show

14th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

DUBAI, June 14, 2007 (AFP) - Aircraft manufacturers at the Paris Air Show next week will again be wooing carriers from the oil-rich Gulf Arab countries which have become some of the biggest spenders on new jets.

DUBAI, June 14, 2007 (AFP) - Aircraft manufacturers at the Paris Air Show next week will again be wooing carriers from the oil-rich Gulf Arab countries which have become some of the biggest spenders on new jets.

The Paris event is one of the biggest aerospace shows in the world and is a key battleground for plane makers Boeing and Airbus as they compete for new business in the ultra-competitive market for civilian aircraft.

The Dubai flagship carrier Emirates -- the main client for Airbus's A380 superjumbo with 47 jets on order -- is choosing between the future Airbus A350 long-haul aircraft and its rival Boeing 787 for an order of 100 more planes.

"Emirates has not yet taken a decision about these 100 planes, all of which will be of the same type, either A350 or B787," a company spokesman told AFP.

The A350, which has been hit by development delays, is to enter service five years after Boeing's 787 Dreamliner model, which is scheduled to take to the skies in 2008.

Emirates, the fastest growing airline in the Middle East, is planning to double its current 103-strong fleet of aircraft by 2012.

Another Gulf carrier, Qatar Airways, is expected to finalise an order for 80 A350 aircraft at the Paris show. A preliminary deal worth 16 billion dollars was signed on May 30, giving a boost to the Airbus programme for the long-haul carrier.

Qatar Airways was founded in 1994 and has a fleet of 53 planes with 120 others on order. It does not rule out new purchases as it expands its network to serve 110 destinations by 2011 compared to 75 current destinations.

The success of Emirates and Qatar Airways has encouraged other Gulf monarchies, which have used inflated oil revenues to increase the fleets of their national airlines.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, which ran its first commercial flight in 2003, a year later ordered 24 Airbus jets, including four A380s.

It flies to 47 destinations across the world and expects growth of 18 percent in 2007.

Likewise, Oman Air announced in April that it was buying five A330 jets to be delivered from 2009 onwards.

Gulf Air, which was launched in 1974 as a regional carrier, is going through a restructuring process since it became owned solely by Bahrain after the withdrawal of the government of Oman in May.

Low-cost airlines like Air Arabia which is based in the UAE emirate of Sharjah and Jazeera Airways of Kuwait, could also be potential buyers.

Air Arabia currently operates a fleet of nine aircraft but has plans to expand its fleet to at least 34 aircraft by 2016.

Jazeera Airways has also increased its network to serve 19 destinations since it launched operations in late 2005.

Saudi Arabian Airlines, meanwhile, is currently adapting to competition after its monopoly on internal flights ended with the arrival of the private NAS airline in December 2006.

Some Gulf countries are also working on developing airport infrastructure to compete for a larger share of the growing regional market for air travel.

Current airport projects represent some 27 billion dollars of investment, of which around 20 billion dollars are being invested in the Emirates and 5.5 billion dollars in Qatar.

Dubai airport is currently the busiest in the Middle East, handling almost 29 million passengers last year.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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