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The backstory: Boeing, a household name in the aircraft industry, has faced some rough patches in recent years. In 2013, it introduced the 777X, a fuel-efficient, long-haul aircraft with the unique feature of foldable wingtips. The 777X program featured models 777-8 and 777-9, an extension of the popular Boeing 777. Despite its potential, the program faced turbulence due to production and certification setbacks, causing delays that kept the aviation community on edge.
Another pivotal moment came with two tragic accidents involving Boeing’s best-selling 737 Max model in 2018 and 2019, resulting in the loss of 346 lives. The accident was found to be because of design flaws in the flight control software. In the aftermath, several countries, including some in the EU, the US, the UK and notably China, swiftly grounded these Boeing jets. This hit the company hard, particularly in China, where it had a significant presence.
The development: On Monday, Dubai carriers ordered over US$50 billion worth of Boeing jets at the Dubai Airshow. As the competition for long-haul planes intensifies and international travel is looking better post-COVID, government-backed Emirates and its sister carrier flyDubai sealed the deal for 125 Boeing wide-body jets. This included 90 orders for jets from the long-delayed 777X program.
Noteworthy additions include five more 787 Dreamliners for Emirates and a debut order of 30 long-haul planes by flyDubai. According to Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of both airlines, these orders are Dubai's concrete step toward shaping the future of its aviation industry, which is essential to its economy. But this has raised the stakes for the aviation industry in the region, with nearby players like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and India also looking to boost their own flight capacities.
"Together these orders represent significant investments that reflect Dubai's commitment to the future of aviation," said Emirates and flyDubai Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.
"They are saying we are the big elephant in the room (and) demonstrating that they are a big player," said Air Lease Executive Chairman Steven F. Udvar-Hazy.
"Airbus and Turkish Airlines have reached an agreement in principle for a significant commercial aircraft order," said Airbus. "We are ratifying this agreement and will communicate in the coming days."