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July 17, 2008

Middle Eastern airline invests $20bn in fleet

Etihad Airways has used the current Farnborough International Airshow (14-20 July) – one of the biggest international trade events for both civil and military aircraft, technology and services – to announce a further $20 billion of orders for Airbus 380s and Boeing Dreamliners.

The order came at the same time as General Electric Co's plane-leasing unit admitted it would not be making any purchases at this year’s show. The company says it expects an industry-wide slowdown in orders, as soaring fuel prices and tight credit beat down the airline business.


Farnborough: flagship for the aviation industry

This continued investment by local carriers confirms the shift in global routes and status towards the Middle East and also underlines belief that the region is bucking the global downturn in the airlines business (see Credit Crunch 2). Emirates also ordered $30 billion of the same aircraft last year, a deal that was announced at World Travel Market in November.

The United Arab Emirites seems determined to become a global hub for business events, and it seems it is getting its way with the established North American carriers unable to match the investment levels of this new superleague. On top of this, western airports are also struggling to match the service and connection levels, as well as the joined up offerings across airports/airlines/venues/hotels afforded by the Middle East and Asia (in particular, Macau). This all adds weight to the belief that these regions could be set to become the centre of world business meetings.


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