Day 1 at the Dubai Airshow: A long-awaited newcomer and a hefty order
The Dubai Airshow kicked off on Sunday, becoming the first major aerospace industry gathering since the Singapore Airshow in February, 2020, as COVID-19 began to spread around the world.
While the biennial Dubai Airshow typically has more of a Middle East and defense-focus than the Paris Airshow and Farnborough show outside of London — which switch off every other summer — Dubai 2021 being the first pandemic-era gathering significantly elevated the stage on which the show is taking place.
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On the civil aviation side, the highlight on day one was the Boeing 777X, the long-awaited next generation of Boeing's flagship wide-body aircraft. The plane, which has undergone numerous setbacks, delaying its planned delivery date by three years, made its first public appearance — and its first true long-haul flight, traversing the path from Seattle to Dubai over the course of 15 hours last week.
The 777X was opened to limited public and media tours, and performed aerial maneuvers during a display in the afternoon — you can read more about the first look inside the plane here.
Boeing did not announce any new orders for the plane, however. It remains to be seen whether a ninth airline joins the list of eight carriers eagerly — and in some cases, impatiently — awaiting the wide-body's delivery.
More: First look: Inside Boeing’s first prototype 777X
Boeing's rival Airbus, on the other hand, did announce a major order on day one. Indigo Partners, which owns several budget airlines including Frontier, signed a firm order for 255 additional A321neo family aircraft, including A321neos and A321XLRs. With the new order, the conglomerate's airlines — which, alongside Frontier, include Volaris in Mexico, JetSMART in Chile and Argentina, and Wizz Air in Europe — have a whopping 1,145 aircraft in the A320 family on order.
Of the 255 additional aircraft, 91 of them will go to Frontier, all A321neos. Another 102 — 75 A321neos and 27 A321XLRs — will go to Wizz Air, 39 A321neos will go to Volaris, and JetSMART, which recently signed a codeshare agreement with American Airlines, will get 21 A321neos and two A321XLRs.
More: Take a look at the new Alaska Airlines 737 MAX that Boeing is using as a flying laboratory
Although Boeing is expected to announce a freighter version of the 777X possibly as soon as this week, and Airbus is expected to announce the first order for its A350 freighter, neither came to fruition on Sunday, giving industry observers something to keep an eye out for in the coming days.
The Dubai Airshow runs through Thursday November 18, so be sure to check back for more on-the-ground reporting from TPG.