The 60th Farnborough Air Show has started, with high fuel costs and an economic downturn making things difficult for the commercial aviation industry. Held near London, Farnborough is one of the world’s most important air shows, with more than 1500 exhibitors from 39 countries.
Day one saw a flurry of aircraft orders, but with European and US companies rethinking their expansion plans in the face of high fuel costs, the Gulf region has become a major market driver.
FlyDubai, a new low-cost carrier based in the Emirates, announced the purchase of 54 Boeing 737s.
On the fuel price crisis, its president, Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, told EuroNews: “I think it’s a problem that’s affecting all the airlines worldwide, the only way for it is to increase fares and that’s the only way the airlines can continue.”
Also from the Gulf, the five-year-old Abu Dhabi based airline Etihad, finalised one of the biggest purchases in the history of aviation: orders and options for 205 planes, with a list price of 27 billion euros.
Etihad is buying 35 Boeing 787 Dreamliners and 10 of the US makers 777s, with firm orders with Airbus for 55 planes. There are also options for 20 more planes from Airbus and it has agreed purchase rights for an additional 35 aircraft. The purchases represent a huge expansion for Etihad, which currently has a fleet of 38 planes. Delivery will be between 2011 and 2020.
Farnborough is also famous for aerobatics. For the first time in European skies, the public was able to see the stunt-flying of Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor, a US fighter plane which has never before cross the Atlantic.