Dubai Airshow 2019 was hailed a success by exhibitors, delegates and sponsors alike, as a lively week of trading came to a close. With more than 1,288 exhibitors in attendance, 161 aircraft on the event’s static display, and a packed schedule of conferences and keynotes, the programme was the show’s busiest to date – as evidenced by the footfall of 84,043 trade attendees. Sales were also booming, with the order book on site reaching $54.5 billion by close of business.

For the first time, India had its own country pavilion, and exhibitors from places such as Italy, the USA and Korea also made their first appearance at the show. Ukraine, Poland, Russia, France, the UK, Saudi Arabia and China were among the other countries represented. So among those taking stands were 100 new exhibitors, including Saudi Arabia’s The Helicopter Company, which was also a key event sponsor.

Also making its debut this year was EDGE, a group comprising 25 local entities working in five aerospace capability clusters, which launched shortly before the show. Among the firms sitting under the EDGE umbrella is Al-Tariq, and its CEO Theunis Botha said the Dubai Airshow had been a great way to establish the brand’s presence in the region.

Elsewhere, a host of speciality conferences, offering industry-specific keynotes, Q&A sessions and networking opportunities, attracted huge crowds of professionals. Set across two days, the Global Air Traffic Management (GATM) conference took a close look into the future of traffic control, with virtual towers proving to be a particularly hot topic. Cargo Connect, a show within the show focused on the air freight industry, with data sharing across both geographical and business boundaries being a key focus.

For the first time in 2019, a growing focus on space exploration regionally was recognised with its own conference programme, opening with Women in Space, hosted by the UAE Space Agency and featuring speakers from the UN and Boeing, among others. Aimed at examining the key role female scientists, researchers, engineers and astronauts will play in the future of the global space industry, the conference proved a huge draw and former astronaut, the European Space Agency’s Claudie Haigneré, said she found the level of engagement very encouraging.

Meanwhile, the Space Tech Talks schedule looked in-depth at the technological advancements needed for the next generation of space exploration, and the impact they are expected to have on the wider world. Indeed, the impact of both technology and space research on all aspects of industry was evidenced across the show floor, where exhibits ranging from Dubai Police’s new flying bike for hard to reach emergencies to new products in the medivac field, through to the first commercial space flight suits from Virgin Galactic, were all on show.

Dubai Airshow 2019 is proving to be a bumper year for armed forces purchase and maintenance deals, with the UAE Ministry of Defence among those unveiling major contracts at the show. It comes as the UAE set out to establish itself as a major player in the advanced technology and defence field. Indeed, it was Halcon, which is now operating under the EDGE umbrella, which scored the UAE MOD’s first big contract, securing a purchase deal for various ammunitions worth USD 980 million.

Elsewhere, Lockheed Martin received a UAE MOD contract to provide F-16 equipment, worth US$20.6 million. “The Dubai Airshow provided an opportunity to reaffirm our enduring commitment to this dynamic region and offered Lockheed Martin a valuable opportunity to connect and engage with our local partners, as well as to showcase our wide range of advanced technological capabilities”, said Robert S. Harward, the firm’s chief executive for the Middle East.

The new C-390 Millennium by Brazilian aerospace conglomerate Embraer was announced at a press conference at Dubai Airshow 2019. The aircraft will be manufactured in collaboration with Boeing under a new partnership, also announced at the show, known as Boeing Embraer – Defense.

Emirates leads sales with USD $16 billion Airbus purchase order

Emirates signed an order for 50 Airbus A350 XWB worth $16billion today, leading the crowd on a busy day of sales and proving, once again, that Dubai Airshow is the industry’s preferred place to do business. The deal, announced by Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates’ Chairman and Chief Executive, and signed with Guillaume Faury, Airbus’ Chief Executive Officer, will see the first aircraft delivered in May 2023. The order replaces a previous agreement of intent to purchase 30 A350s and 40 A330 Neos, and reflects Emirates’ desire to move towards a new configuration featuring Premium Economy cabins.

In addition, Air Arabia signed a deal worth $14billion with Airbus to purchase a total of 120 new aircraft, comprising a mix of A320 Neos, A321 Neos and A321 XLRs. The airline, which currently operates primarily from Sharjah with a fleet of 53 Airbus aircraft, was recently announced as the partner in a joint venture with Abu Dhabi’s Etihad to launch Air Arabia Abu Dhabi.

It followed day one sales from De Havilland Canada, of three Dash 8-400 turboprops to Elin Group of Nigeria in a deal worth US$99million, and Boeing, which sold a pair of 787-9s worth US$585million at list price to Biman Bangladesh Airlines. Elsewhere, Nigeria’s Air Peace topped up its fleet with the purchase of three Embraer 195-E2s, while Egyptian lessor CIAF purchased three E190s and Omani low-cost carrier SalamAir agreed the lease of two Airbus A321 Neos from GECAS.

Dubai Air Show 2019

The show’s opening days have also seen an increased focus on green initiatives aimed at answering environmental concerns in the aerospace industry, with Etihad Airways and Boeing unveiling plans for a world-first ‘Greenliner’.

The eco partnership will use a specially-themed Boeing 787 Dreamliner, set to be introduced early next year, to research products, procedures and initiatives designed to reduce aircraft carbon emissions. Etihad also announced the operation of a special Boeing 787 ‘eco flight’ to Brussels will take place during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week in January 2020. Meanwhile, the world’s first eco-friendly air-racer monoplane was also unveiled at the show by Air Race E, the firm pioneering an electric racing series which is expected to launch in late 2020 with support from Airbus.

Commenting on the show’s culmination, Michele van Akelijen, Managing Director of show organisers Tarsus F&E LLC Middle East, said: “We always want to outperform our last show, and 2019 has gone above and beyond expectation, with so much great business being done alongside an engaging and innovative programme of conferences, exhibits and flying displays. We have already seen exhibitors rebooking for the next edition, and we look forward greatly to seeing what the next two years of aerospace development will bring to out 2021 edition.

The Dubai Airshow will return from 14 – 18 November 2021.

Images: Dubai Airshow, ASDS Media Bank

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