THE new venue for Dubai’s international air show, which opened on November 17th, is yet another testament to the ambitions of the tiny Gulf state. Al Maktoum airport, when fully operational in 2027, will handle 160m passengers a year on five runways. And it will operate in tandem with Dubai’s older airport, which is closer to its centre and currently welcomes 60m travellers a year. The punt on continued growth in demand is also reflected in the big orders for new planes that the region’s airlines announced at this week’s show.
Emirates, Dubai’s flag-carrier, led the way by ordering 150 of the 777X, a forthcoming revamp of what is currently Boeing’s best-selling long-haul plane. The deal is worth $76 billion at list prices. Boeing also landed orders for 75 more 777Xs from the two other fast-growing “superconnectors” in the Gulf region, Qatar Airways and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad. Boeing’s archrival, Airbus, won Emirates’ endorsement of another big bet in aviation. The airline ordered 50 more of the A380, a super-jumbo launched in 2007 in the hope that carriers would want a plane even bigger than Boeing’s ageing 747.