DUBAI - Gulf airlines splashed out over US$150 billion on new plane deals on day one of the Dubai Airshow, underscoring a shift in power in the aviation industry and giving a boost to the formal launch of Boeing's newest jet, as well as to Airbus's A380 superjumbo.
Under hazy skies, sheikhs and ruling family members of Dubai and neighboring Abu Dhabi toured rows of passenger jets and arms pavilions at the new 645,000 square meter venue, built to showcase the Middle East's largest aviation hub and take on the industry's traditional showcase events in Britain and France.
Dubai-based Emirates led the buying spree on Sunday with an order for 150 of Boeing's new 777 mini-jumbo, in a deal worth US$76 billion at list prices. It also ordered 50 Airbus A380s, the world's biggest passenger plane, worth US$23 billion.
With demand from other Gulf carriers including Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways, Boeing announced commitments for a total of 259 of the new 777 jet, previously codenamed 777X, worth about US$100 billion at list prices - the largest combined order in its history and confirming earlier Reuters stories.
"The response to the 777X has been astounding," Boeing Chairman James McNerney said at a packed news conference to officially launch the new plane, in front of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum.