The three major Gulf carriers have announced today deals for billions of dollars worth of new planes with US-based Boeing, as part of plans to increase their long-haul flight capacity. The news was shared this morning on the opening day of the Dubai Air Show.
Among the highest-profile deals were Emirates’ $76 billion plan to buy 150 new B777X planes; Qatar Airways’ $19 billion order of 50; and Etihad’s order of 25, part of an overall $25 billion deal for several planes, Bloomberg reports. Lufthansa has also signed up for 34 of the mini-jumbo aircraft, reportedly making it the largest ever launch for an airliner.
Last month, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker told reporters that his airline was “not interested in buying” in the new wide-body jet, but he backtracked on that remark during a discussion with media at Hamad International Airport a few weeks ago.
Speaking at the airline’s inauguration into the oneworld alliance, Al Baker then said he would consider making a purchase “when the time is right.”
The 777X comes in two models – a 350-seat plane known as the 777-8 and a 406-seater called the 777-9. According to Boeing, construction on the planes is not set to start until 2017, and airlines will first begin receiving the 777-9s in 2020.
When they’re ready, the jets are expected to help the Gulf trio raise their profiles and bolster growth, Bloomberg reports:
“Expansion plans at Emirates, Qatar and Etihad highlight how the center of gravity for global-air travel is has shifted to the Middle East from Europe and North America. The three have a combined 347 wide-bodies on order, according to Doug Harned, a New York-based analyst at Sanford Bernstein.”
Note: This article has been corrected to reflect the accurate deal figures for Etihad.