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Dubai Airshow 2007 does it again – this time visitor records are broken
Dubai Airshow 2007 does it again – this time visitor records are broken

The 10th in the biennial series – has notched up yet another record – this time for visitor turnout.

Some 45,421 industry-linked visitors from 131 countries attended the five-day show, which ran at Airport Expo Dubai, United Arab Emirates, last week – a 30% increase in the number attending the 2005 event. The turnout included 32 civil delegations from 30 countries and 82 military delegations from 48 countries.

“This really was a world-beating event in every way,” said Virginia Kern, Chairman of Fairs & Exhibitions (F&E), which organises the show in conjunction with the Civil Aviation Authority of Dubai and in collaboration with the UAE Armed Forces.

“The visitor breakdown shows a particularly high turnout of airline executives – which reflects the huge growth that has taken place in the Middle East’s civil aviation profile in recent years.

“So with record numbers of exhibitors, aircraft displayed, on-site orders taken and visitors, there can be no doubt whatsoever that when it comes to aviation, this region now has a truly global standing.”

The show, which featured 850 exhibitors from 50 countries, 11 national pavilions and over 140 aircraft, smashed all previous declared on-site order tallies for any international aerospace event – with the final order book exceeding US $ 100 billion. “In build-up everyone was expecting major orders – but none of us could have predicted the sheer size and scale of the announcements,” said Alison Weller, Director Aerospace, F&E. “The show more than surpassed any expectations and earned its mantle as the world’s third largest aerospace exhibition.”

The action took off within minutes of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai officially opening the show with history-making announcements that generated world-wide news coverage. And it just didn’t stop.

“The wide spectrum of business achieved was simply breathtaking,” said Weller. “It covered all aspects of civil aviation but also considerably impacted the military sector.” Emirates, the international airline of the United Arab Emirates placed orders and options over US $ 34.9 billion on the first day for a range of Airbus and Boeing aircraft as well a GE and Rolls Royce Trent engines. Cessna quickly followed with US $ 190 million worth of sales to a Saudi private jet operator and Egyptian carrier Nile Air, Brazilian plane-maker Embraer clinched a US $ 45 million deal with an order from Abu Dhabi’s Falcon Aviation Services and Qatar Airways weighed in with an order for 30 firm and 30 options for Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners and confirmed orders for 27 Boeing 777s.

Aerion took an order for its Mach 1.6 supersonic business jet from a member of the Ajman Royal family which will ensure that its owner, Sheikh Rashid Bin Humaid Al Noaimi, becomes one of the first world leaders to routinely fly above the speed of sound while Sikorsky used the show to announce sales of its Black Hawk Helicopters to the Air Forces of Bahrain and the UAE.

Day Two brought the headline-grabbing deal between Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, Chairman of the Kingdom Holding Company and Airbus for an A380 Flying Palace – becoming the first customer for the VIP version of the new double-deck airliner.

The show’s record sales tally soared further when Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) signed a US $ 13.5 billion letter of intent with Airbus for up to 100 aircraft, which included an associated deal with Rolls-Royce for Trent XWB engines to power the A350 XWBs. The aircraft will be owned by the group’s aircraft leasing and financing business, DAE Capital. Within hours DAE Capital went on to sign a letter of intent for 100 aircraft with Boeing, for 70 Boeing 737 next generation aircraft and 30 widebody planes.

And Boeing was smiling further when Dubai-based aircraft leasing company LCAL placed an order for six additional 787-8 Dreamliners.

But it wasn’t just the two great mainframe providers who were celebrating. Ferrari’s Formula One driver Felipe Massa also helped fast-track business when he ordered a Piaggio Aero P180 Avanti II advanced twin-engined Italian executive aircraft – billed as the world’s fastest turboprop.

Day Three saw the momentum maintained. DAE once again led the rally when it kick-started its entry into the aircraft leasing business by buying eight Airbus aircraft from Emirates airline in a split purchase and leaseback deal.

Other deals concluded were a firm contract for ten Airbus A350 XWBs from Yemenia, a US $ 500 million MRO contract by Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways to Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies and an order for five A330s from Oman Air.

Eclipse Aviation, which makes the world’s first Very Light Jet, sold 12 Eclipse 500 jets to Dubai Aerospace Enterprise Flight Academy

Even as the curtain prepared to come down on the show, business was still being achieved. AT US $ 8.8 million, Emirates placed one of the world’s largest ever Cabin Service Trainer (CST) installation orders. The contract went to Dubai’s Spatial Composite Solutions which will design 13 CSTs with Emirates’ specifications for various Airbus and Boeing configurations and install them at the airline’s new Aviation Crew Training College.

And the future of the Dubai Airshow looks brighter than ever as major regional aviation players outlined huge expansion plans – from new training centres, to MRO facilities, fleet expansion and refurbishment and even the launch of yet another new airline for the region. Saudi Arabia’s National Air Services, the fastest-growing independent provider of aviation services in the Middle East, told a packed media corps that it intends to add 120 new aircraft to its fleet over the next five years while Abu Dhabi’s Royal Jet, announced a refurbishment and upgrade programme for its five BBJ aircraft which form the world’s largest solely-owned BBJ fleet.

As the show closed, key industry players rushed to ensure that they were secure for the 2009 event with many increasing the size of their stands and chalets – with a large number doubling their floor space commitment. Over 5,000 square metres of floor space was contracted for 2009 before the curtain fell on Dubai Airshow 2007 by companies from throughout North America and the Middle East.

Leading the early day booking surge was Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Development Company which reserved more than 800 square metres and a 500 square metre chalet. Other major industry names which have confirmed for the 2009 event including Boeing, Cessna, Eclipse, KBR, Hawker, Crane and Pratt & Whitney.

The show was a fitting farewell to Airport Expo Dubai, which has been its home since the mid 90s, as it is to move in 2009 to a new, purpose-built site at the giant Dubai World Central aviation community in Jebel Ali, a 30 minutes’ drive outside of Dubai city when it will run from November 15-19.

The new Dubai Airshow site will raise the benchmark for world-class aerospace show facilities. It will cover 425,000 square metres – double the size of Airport Expo Dubai – with 42,000 square metres of exhibition space. It will have 130 chalets, car parking for 4,000 cars in 2009 and rising to 7,000 for subsequent events.

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