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Dubai Air Show: Day Two Lands Historic Orders from Ethiopian Airlines and EgyptAir

Ethiopian Airlines placed Africa's largest commercial aircraft order, reserving up to 67 Boeing jets on the second day.

by Enrique Perrella

November 14, 2023

Photo: Dubai Air Show 2023

At Dubai World Central’s 2023 Air Show Day Two, the excitement continued to grow, as Emirates and flydubai placed massive orders on the inaugural day.

The event continues to be a pivotal platform for the global aerospace, space, and defense industries, bringing together industry leaders, decision-makers, and innovators for high-level discussions and unveiling the latest technological advancements.

New orders were signed, with Ethiopian Airlines making headlines for placing the largest-ever aircraft order in Africa.

Ethiopian Airlines Breaks Records

In a historic move, Ethiopian Airlines ordered 11 Boeing 787 Dreamliners and 20 737 MAX aircraft—the largest ever for Boeing planes in African history.

Photo: Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, Ethiopian Airlines. Courtesy of Boeing

“We are pleased to announce that Ethiopian Airlines has reached a deal with Boeing to place a firm order for 31 ultra-modern airplanes, with the opportunity for 36 additional jets,” said Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Mr. Mesfin Tasew.

“This order will enable us to modernize and increase our fleet in support of Ethiopian Airlines’ growth plan and our Vision 2035 Strategy. Through this deal, we have solidified our decades-old exemplary business partnership with Boeing. The 787 Dreamliner and 737 MAX demonstrate Ethiopian Airlines’ environmentally conscious decisions and its commitment to serve passengers with the latest technologically advanced airplanes.”

This deal also allows Ethiopian Airlines to secure slots for an additional 15 787 Dreamliners and 21 737 MAX planes.

According to Boeing, this new commitment will help Ethiopian Airlines to strengthen and diversify its fleet, which currently includes over 80 Boeing jets.

Ethiopian Airlines has the largest Dreamliner fleet in Africa, consisting of both 787-8s and 787-9s.

Photo: Boeing 737 MAX 8, Ethiopian Airlines. Courtesy of Boeing

Boeing’s Senior Vice President of Commercial Sales and Marketing, Brad McMullen, praised the long-standing relationship, remarking, “Ethiopian Airlines has been the first African carrier to receive the 787 and continues to demonstrate its commitment to expanding its 787 and 737MAX fleets.”

McMullen stated that, with their decades of experience in operating single-aisle and widebody jets, Boeing appreciates the confidence Ethiopian Airlines has in their products. After more than 75 years of collaboration, the strength of their relationship is evident.

EgyptAir’s Move with Airbus

On the same dynamic day, EgyptAir announced the acquisition of ten new Airbus A350-900s, signaling a significant step towards modernizing its long-haul fleet. 

The A350 XWB program has seen continuous success, with EgyptAir contributing to the growing list of orders.

Photo: Egyptair, Aibus A350-900 rendering. Courtesy of Airbus

Yehia Zakaria, CEO of EgyptAir, clarified that the new A350s would not replace its current Airbus A330 fleet, emphasizing the coexistence in its operations. 

On Day One of the Dubai Air Show, EgyptAir announced the leasing agreement for up to 18 Boeing 737-8 aircraft, marking a significant move in modernizing its short-haul fleet. The new aircraft will be delivered starting in 2025.

Zakaria added, “We are enhancing our fleet capabilities, ensuring fuel efficiency, and simultaneously providing a superior travel experience for our passengers.”

SCAT Airlines Goes MAX

Boeing and SCAT Airlines announced a strategic partnership, solidifying an order for seven Boeing 737-8 aircraft.

This expansion move will nearly double SCAT’s existing 737 fleet, opening avenues for new European routes and fortifying its position as Kazakhstan’s most rapidly growing airline.

Photo: SCAT’s first Boeing 737 MAX 8. Courtesy of Boeing

“The repeat order from SCAT Airlines demonstrates their confidence in the value, performance, and reliability of the 737 family,” said Boeing’s Brad McMullen. “Boeing is committed to supporting SCAT’s network expansion and playing a vital role in their long-term success.”

With three 737-8 and five 737-9 aircraft already in its fleet, SCAT Airlines continues to grow in Central Asia, setting new benchmarks for growth and connectivity.

FlyDubai and Emirates: A Strategic Alliance for Growth

FlyDubai continued its growth following Day One’s massive order for 30 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. On the second day of the Dubai Air Show, the airline signed a multi-year agreement with CFM’s LEAP-1B engines to support its growth plans.

Photo: Courtesy of flydubai

This order complements FlyDubai’s ambitious plans to take delivery of over 130 aircraft in the coming years.

Likewise, Emirates made substantial strides on day two, signing deals worth over US$1.2 billion with Safran for its new fleet of Airbus A350, Boeing 777X-9, and existing Boeing 777-300 aircraft. These strategic investments underscore Emirates’ commitment to technological advancement and excellence in its fleet.

The Global Aerospace Community Reacts

Timothy Hawes, Managing Director of Tarsus Middle East, commented on the remarkable success of day two, stating, “Day two of the Dubai Air Show 2023 has surpassed our expectations, setting a new standard for global aerospace events. The dynamic atmosphere was charged with groundbreaking deals and strategic partnerships, reflecting the vibrant evolution of the aerospace sector.”

Photo: Dubai Air Show 2023

Industry leaders acknowledged the second day’s success, reinforcing the Dubai Air Show’s pivotal role in shaping the future of aerospace. Timothy Hawes expressed excitement and optimism about the potential collaborations and developments in the coming days.