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Editorial comment - January 2018

The 2017 Dubai Airshow in November was testament to how budget carriers are rewriting the industry rulebook – and, looking at the sheer frenzy of orders placed, they are certainly commanding orders for the narrowbodies.
 

Into the big league

 

The 2017 Dubai Airshow in November was testament to how budget carriers are rewriting the industry rulebook – and, looking at the sheer frenzy of orders placed, they are certainly commanding orders for the narrowbodies.


Industry sources predict that by 2027, there will be an estimated 23,128 units of narrowbody aircraft in use globally. The Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 platforms will dominate this market as they are widely used in the no-frills service model.


It’s no surprise that the 737 and A320 did particularly well in Dubai. Airbus notably landed a deal for a record 430 of its A320neo family jets, worth a staggering $49.5 million at list prices. The aircraft will be allocated among the ultra-low cost airlines – Frontier Airlines (United States), JetSMART (Chile), Volaris (Mexico) and Wizz Air (Hungary), upon the completion of final purchase agreements between Airbus and the four airlines.


Not to be completely outdone, Boeing too had a surprise announcement up its sleeve with an order for 225 737 MAXs by flydubai. Valued at $27 billion, it’s the largest-ever single-aisle jet order from a Middle Eastern carrier. The deal will surpass flydubai’s previous record order of 75 MAX jets and 11 Next-Generation 737-800s, that was signed at the 2013 Dubai Airshow.


The new MAX order marks the third such placed by flydubai with the US manufacturer during its eight-year history, following on from others placed in 2008 and 2013. The new crop of aircraft will be added to the flydubai fleet from as soon as 2019.


It was certainly flydubai’s time to shine. The low cost carrier used the same occasion to unveil its first MAX 8 from the 2013 order. The new MAX fleet for flydubai will initially be deployed on the furthest points on the carrier’s network. Destinations including Bangkok, Prague, Yekaterinburg and Zanzibar will be among the first to be served by the MAX 8. The additional aircraft being delivered over the next few years will be rolled out across the fleet and will become available on most of the routes on the network.


In terms of attendance numbers at the show itself, the organisers say trade visitors to the event were up around 20% on the 2015 instalment. At the end of the show’s final day, the order book stood at around $113.8 billion – not a bad set of figures.


And for low cost carries like flydubai, it’s certainly budget to business.


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