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Counting the Cost

Sky high ambitions

In this special edition from the Dubai Airshow, we look at the Gulf countries making lofty moves in the aviation market.

Last updated: 23 Nov 2013 09:49
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This week, Counting the Cost is all about aviation at the Dubai Airshow, where the deals being made have shattered all air show records and are placing the Gulf carriers at the forefront of global aviation.

The Dubai Airshow has produced a harvest of deals for the world's biggest and flashiest jets, demonstrating the spending power of regional airlines and, in particular, state-backed carriers in the Middle East.

Taking advantage of a strategic position between East and West, Gulf airlines are expanding rapidly and diverting long-haul traffic from airlines in Europe, the United States and parts of Asia.

Dubai's Emirates airline placed an order for 150 Boeing 777X long-haul jets, as well as 50 Airbus A380 airliners, in a deal said to be worth over $100bn. The agreement will bring its total orders for the world's largest aircraft to 140, following a previous order of 90 Airbus jets, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum, Emirates chief executive, said.

"The governments understand the criticality of aviation in their national business model, so it sits a lot higher in their priorities than it may do in the US or in Europe, and that is a great thing. As far as Emirates is concerned that is as far as it goes, we have enormous support from the government," Tim Clark, the president of Emirates airline told Counting the Cost.

The Dubai-based carrier said the Boeing contract was valued at $76bn and that the new deal with Airbus exceeded the $18bn agreed to at the last event in 2011.

"When you think about the Gulf carriers, we think about wide-body aircraft. Over the next 20 years about 15 percent of the worldwide demand for wide bodies is here in the Middle East and of course the Gulf carriers are the biggest part of that," said Randy Tinseth, the senior VP for marketing at Boeing. 

Boeing launched the long-awaited new version of its 777 long-haul jet with 259 orders from the top three Gulf carriers, including Emirates, Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways.

So what are the Gulf's ambitions in the aviation market? Why are regional governments investing so much in new aircrafts? And will GCC countries lead the aviation market in the future? 

Watch each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 2230; Saturday: 0930; Sunday: 0330; Monday: 1630.  Click here  for more Counting the Cost.

Follow Kamahl Santamaria  @KamahlAJE  and business editor Abid Ali @abidoliverali 

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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