Dubai Airshow Day Two: Airbus takes the lead with big orders from Emirates and Air Arabia

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There is never a dull moment at an Airshow, I think. After having a very slow day one, I was so glad to have made it to the venue. It seemed like another academic day here, with an exciting presentation from Airbus, where they are experimenting with new ways to reduce the fuel consumption of aircraft. Taking inspiration from migrating birds such as geese, Airbus unveiled a technology project called Fello’fly, which, if it works, could save 5-10% fuel per flight for airlines.

Airbus Fello’Fly

a bird flying in the sky

Airbus unveiled fello’fly, its latest demonstrator project inspired by biomimicry. The Airbus fello’fly project aims to demonstrate the technical, operational and commercial viability of two aircraft flying together for long-haul flights.

Through fello’fly, a follower aircraft will retrieve the energy lost by the wake of a leader aircraft, by flying in the smooth updraft of air it creates. This provides a lift to the follower aircraft allowing it to decrease engine thrust and therefore reduce fuel consumption in the range of 5-10% per trip. Airliners will have to fly separated by about 3 kilometres to be able to benefit from this concept, not as close as military formations.

In terms of the operational solution, Airbus is working, in collaboration with airlines and Air Traffic Control (ATC) providers, to identify the functional needs and suitable solutions for planning and executing fello’fly operations.  Airbus is due to commence flight tests with two of its A350 aircraft in 2020.

Airbus wins big with Emirates’ 50 A350-900 order and Air Arabia’s 120 A320 family order

Emirates, which was quiet on the first day of the Airshow, came into being on the second day. To a packed room, Emirates confirmed an order it had first placed in early 2019 when the A380 programme was cancelled, that of the A350. While earlier on, Emirates had signalled an order for 30 A350 aircraft and 40 A330neo orders, the confirmation was made for 50 A350-900 aircraft in total.

a group of people standing around a desk

Emirates did not comment on what it intended to do with the 30 A330neo orders and refused to take questions on the 40 787-10 orders which were first mentioned at the Dubai Airshow 2017. Incidentally, Airbus had the A350 order back in 2007 from Emirates, which was cancelled in 2014. Here are the full details of this order.

a group of men standing at a table

But that was not all. Later in the day, Airbus received another big order for 120 aircraft, this time from neighbouring AirArabia. While it is rumoured that this order would be passed on to AirArabia’s new tie-up with Etihad, the airline did not comment on that for the moment.  The deal is for 73 A320neos, 27 A321neos and 20 A321XLRs.

Etihad & Boeing to cooperate on the Greenliner

a group of people standing in front of a large sign with an airplane

The morning started with Etihad Airways and Boeing announcing a collaboration, to use an upcoming Boeing 787 Dreamliner of Etihad Airways and brand it as the Greenliner. The Greenliner project would experiment with a whole bunch of aviation initiatives to make flying more sustainable. Etihad did not spell out a firm plan of action, but they did mention that they would both promote it on Social Media for sure.

A straightforward idea talked about was getting rid of single-use plastics from the aircraft, something Etihad has already tried out on another route, to Brisbane. Boeing would bring on board learnings from their EcoDemonstrator project. Further, the first flight of this aircraft would be to Brussels in January 2020, and after that, it would operate on other routes as well.

What Etihad let out was that they were going to take delivery of 51 787 aircraft, while the original order stood for 41 787-9s and 30 787-10s.

Boeing 737 MAX gets a win

a group of men shaking hands

Turkey’s leisure carrier SunExpress firmed up an order for ten Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, becoming the first operator at the Dubai Airshow 2019 to order this aircraft type, and the second after the grounding to order this aircraft.

The airline, which specialises in offering direct connections between Europe, Turkey and popular holiday destinations, has achieved significant growth in recent years as it steadily expanded its fleet of mainly Boeing 737 airplanes. Last year, SunExpress’ passenger count climbed to nearly 10 million across roughly 100 destinations.

de Havilland Dash 8 gets big customers

a group of men in suits holding a model airplane

After the small wins over the first couple of days, de Havilland, the new owner of the Q400 programme, now known as the Dash 8-400 programme, got itself a big backer. Aircraft lessor Palma Holding signed with de Havilland a letter of intent to purchase 20 Dash 8-400 aircraft.


What does Day 3 hold? We will keep you posted.

About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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