The most ostentatious deal signed at this year´s Dubai Art Show was by Saudi billionaire, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal who shelled out around $ 300 million to upgrade his personal Boeing 747 to an Airbus A380 superjumbo.
Other multi-million deals signed by airlines including Emirates Airline, DAE Capital, Qatar Airways and Air Arabia are expected to top $ 80 billion. Airbus earned the largest windfall, securing $ 28 billion in commitments, followed by Boeing.
"These are the largest deals for both Boeing and Airbus from these Middle Eastern Airlines," says Michael Burns, transportation analyst from Booz Allen Hamilton. "Rather than simply re-equipping, they are actually growing for new capacity. So they´re ordering lots of new jets very quickly."
The new hubs in the Middle East are creating an impact on air traffic around the world, he adds. "They are taking traffic from all the regional centers in Europe, and funneling them into Asia, Australia and areas like Pakistan. And that means airlines are obviously having to build up capacity. They are expecting to see major growth over the next decade," he says. Middle Eastern carriers are also starting to lease aircraft in addition to buying them outright, which further allows them to expand more rapidly.