Global growth

The region's airlines dominated international coverage of the Farnborough Airshow 2008 as one after the other, the major players announced multi-billion dollar aircraft acquisitions.
Photographer at Farnborough Air Show
Photographer at Farnborough Air Show

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The region's airlines dominated international coverage of the Farnborough Airshow 2008 as one after the other, the major players announced multi-billion dollar aircraft acquisitions.

As a marketplace for the global aerospace industry, the Farnborough International Airshow is appreciated by emerging and established markets alike. This year's event hit the headlines as Middle Eastern airlines announced billion dollar orders, notably Etihad Airways and start-up budget airline, FlyDubai.

As reported in the August issue's regional news pages, DAE Capital, the aircraft leasing and finance division of Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) also placed a 100 aircraft order valued at US$12.6 billion.

Trevor Sidebottom, managing director of Farnborough International Ltd said: "The airline industry continues to be hit by a combination of slowing economies and high fuel prices, which in turn have led to worries that aircraft manufacturers might cancel orders.

On the evidence of the first two days at Farnborough, it is clear that both manufacturers and airline carriers are in fact expanding their fleets and routes to satisfy growing demand for air travel."

The Kingdom of Bahrain and Farnborough International announced a collaboration to bring an airshow to the region in 2010. The focus will be on the international civil and military market and is in response to the booming aviation industry.

The United Arab Emirates ongoing airport expansion also demanded column inches as Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) announced it is to establish the Middle East's first dedicated executive airport at Al Bateen military airbase.

ADAC will invest $54 million in the project, which is billed as a 'one-stop shop' business jet facility for VVIP and VIP travellers.

In keeping with the private jet theme, the Business Aircraft Park appealed to the Middle Eastern market. Top business people could literally walk up to an executive jet they liked and get in it.

By prior arrangement a test drive could be arranged. Company representatives from exhibitors such as Hawker Beechcraft and Dassault escorted clients to waiting aircraft. Fifteen aircraft were on display in the business aircraft category in 2006, this year saw 32 aircraft on display reflecting the growing demand within the market.

Amanda Stainer, the airshow's exhibition and events director commented: "I am delighted that show on show this area has gone from strength to strength.

We have listened to the needs of our customers and have really delivered what they want, providing them not only with a platform for selling their jets but also the right environment for doing business."

The show attracted over 140,000 business visitors while the temporary exhibition saw 1500 exhibitors promoting their products. Thirty nine countries were represented, along with 29 international and regional pavilions.

Formula One golden boy Lewis Hamilton made an appearance at the airshow as a Bombardier Learjet brand ambassador behind the wheel of his team car, McLaren Mercedes.

Hamilton raced down the runway with a Learjet 60XR 200 feet above his head and after the display commented: "Normally when I'm on the runway the planes are landing so I was a little bit nervous, but I was sitting in my car, they told me to go and I booted it to 280km/h."

This year's show was the biggest event ever in the airshow's history in terms of exhibition space and exhibitor presence. New exhibiting companies came to the show for the first time from emerging industry sectors reflecting the strongest areas in the market.

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