Airbus racked up 4 times as many orders for aircraft as Boeing at Dubai, but Boeing stole the show with the 777x, its newest flagship

Airbus A350-900 XWB at Dubai Airshow
An Airbus A350-900 XWB at Dubai Airshow.

  • Airbus landed 408 orders for aircraft at the Dubai Airshow ranging from the new A350 Freighter to the A220-300. 
  • Boeing paled in comparison with 98 orders, including a 72-aircraft order for the 737 Max. 
  • Cargo aircraft proved to be a common denominator between the two rival manufacturers. 

DUBAI — The Dubai Airshow officially ended and Airbus walked away with 408 aircraft orders and commitments, besting competitor Boeing which ended the show with only 98 of the same. 

Indigo Partners, an airline holding company, placed massive orders for next-generation Airbus narrow-body aircraft including the A321neo and A321XLR for its family of ultra-low-cost airlines. The opening day order quickly placed Airbus ahead of Boeing and set the tone for the five-day event.

European carrier Wizz Air will receive 75 A321neo and 27 A321XLR aircraft, American carrier Frontier Airlines will receive 91 A321neo aircraft, Mexican carrier Volaris will receive 39 A321neo aircraft, and Chilean carrier JetSmart will receive 21 A321neo and 2 A321XLR aircraft, as part of the mega order.

Airbus also launched the A350 Freighter, the cargo variant of the popular A350 XWB passenger wide-body plane, in a seven-aircraft order to aircraft leasing company Air Lease Corporation. Other models in the 111-aircraft order from Air Lease included 25 Airbus A220-300s, 55 A321neos, and four A330neos, to be leased to airlines around the world.

Airbus A350-900 XWB at Dubai Airshow 2021
An Airbus A350-900 XWB at Dubai Airshow 2021.

Finally, on the commercial side, Kuwait’s Jazeera Airways placed an order for 28 Airbus A321neo aircraft while Nigeria’s Ibom Air joined the Airbus family with an order for 10 A220 jets.

Airbus’ defense division secured orders for two Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft bound for the United Arab Emirates Air Force and Air Defence. Indonesia also purchased two Airbus A400M cargo planes.

Boeing began the air show with strong sales on the cargo conversion side of its business as carriers look to expand air freight operations amid the shipping crisis. DHL Express placed an order for nine Boeing 767-300BCF, or Boeing Converted Freighter, aircraft while aircraft leasing company Icelease ordered 11 Boeing 737-800BCFs.

Emirates followed with a newly-revealed order for two new Boeing 777-200 Freighter aircraft to expand its Emirates SkyCargo fleet. Four Boeing 777-300ERSF aircraft will also join the Emirates fleet in a deal with Israel Aerospace Industries to convert four of the airline’s 777-300ER passenger aircraft into freighters, at a cost of around $200 million.

The Boeing 737 Max had a successful air show, with a new Indian carrier, Akasa Air, placing an order for 72 737 Max 8 and 737 Max 8-200 aircraft. Orders for the 737 Max have flowed in since the Federal Aviation Administration ungrounded the aircraft in November 2020 after 20 months following two fatal crashes. 

Boeing did succeed in generating excitement for its newest and largest twin-engine aircraft, the Boeing 777X. Having first flown in January 2020, the Dubai Airshow marked the first-ever international trip for the 777X and the first time members of the public were allowed onboard.

Boeing 777X at Dubai Airshow 2021
The Boeing 777X at Dubai Airshow 2021.

The soon-to-be world’s largest twin-engine passenger plane is expected to be delivered in 2023, with six customers including the Dubai-based Emirates.

Boeing did not land any orders for the 777X while at the airshow but does hold more than 300 orders placed since the aircraft’s inception. The new flagship jet left Dubai mid-week for Qatar and Germany on its way to visit fellow customers Qatar Airways and Lufthansa, respectively.

A decision has not been made on whether Boeing will introduce a freighter variant of the 777X despite a red-hot market for cargo planes. But Boeing still has time to develop the aircraft as the A350 Freighter won’t see deliveries until around 2026, FlightGlobal reported. 

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Amazon is reportedly shopping for used cargo jets that can fly from China, an effort that would help the company side-step major port delays

Amazon Prime Air plane parked at Kentucky hub
  • Amazon wants to buy used long-range cargo planes that could haul goods from Asia to the US, Bloomberg reports.
  • Sources close to the issue told Bloomberg the retailer wants to buy over 10 of Boeing and Airbus’s largest converted passenger jets.
  • Amazon is one of many major retailers looking to avoid weeks of delays at Southern California ports.

Amazon is looking to buy used cargo planes that would be able to travel long distances, according to a report from Bloomberg on Wednesday.

The company is shopping for 10 refurbished Airbus’s A330-300 aircraft and an unspecified number of used Boeing 777-300ER cargo planes, sources familiar with the issue told the publication. The company is also looking to fill crew positions for the planes. The planes represent some of the largest cargo versions of twin-engine passenger jets in the world, Bloomberg points out.

The move would be a major step in allowing the e-commerce giant to move goods from Asia to the US on its own and it would help the company avoid supply-chain bottlenecks at key US ports. The aircraft would be able to fly goods directly from China to the US, within a few hours’ drive of their final destinations – evading port delays that could tack on over a month to the goods’ delivery date, as well as backlogs at warehouses and railroads.

It is unclear whether Amazon will buy or lease the long-range cargo planes. It is also unknown where the planes will be bought or when they plan to begin using the cargo planes. But, it could be a major step to simplifying supply-chain issues for the retailer and could help them avoid future hurdles. Experts predict supply-chain bottlenecks will continue well into 2023.

A spokesperson for Amazon did not immediately comment on the report.

In January, Amazon expanded its transportation fleet by purchasing 11 Boeing 767 airliners to use as cargo planes. Amazon plans to use a refurbished version of Boeing’s 777 plane next year, Bloomberg reported. The passenger plane-turned-cargo plane will hold about 25% more goods than existing air freighters, the publication said.

Amazon employees load cargo onto Amazon Air plane at new cargo hub

If the converted jets are obtained, Amazon will be one of many major retailers to take extra precautions to side-step supply-chain constraints. Earlier this month, Coca-Cola announced it was chartering bulk-shipping vessels that are usually reserved for hauling raw materials like coal, iron, and grain. The month before, Target and Costco also revealed that they had begun chartering container ships in an effort to side-step the shipping delays.

Other companies, including Home Depot, Lululemon, and Peloton, have begun relying more heavily on air freight as well. Though, air shipments are significantly more expensive than transporting goods by sea. A $195 ocean shipment can cost $1,000 by air, according to Freightos. Companies’ movements toward air cargo can also cause backups at airports.

Amazon Air was first launched over five years ago. Since, it has grown to encompass about 75 planes which operate primarily in North America and Europe. Amazon’s further expansion into air freight will also help it compete with the UPS and FedEx.

Read Bloomberg’s full report here.

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Poland is buying 5 cargo planes out of the US Air Force’s ‘boneyard’

US Air Force C-130H
Airmen from the Wyoming Air National Guard prepare a C-130H for a mission out of Cheyenne, Wyoming, February 27, 2019.

  • Poland is buying five C-130H Hercules aircraft out of the “Boneyard” in the Arizona desert.
  • The aircraft will be partially retrofitted with new equipment, made flightworthy, and flown to Poland.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Armament Inspectorate of the Polish Ministry of Defense published a release stating that an intergovernmental agreement has been signed on April 12, 2021, concerning the delivery of five C-130H airlifters to Poland.

The deal is a part of the Excess Defense Articles grant program. The aircraft would be partially retrofitted with new equipment, made flightworthy, and then they would fly to Poland.

The agreement has a relatively low value – USD $14.3 million. The US side, the Polish MoD reports, assumes that five C-130H airframes that the Polish Air Force would receive. They are worth $60 million, as per the US quote. The deliveries would be finalized by mid-2024, with the first aircraft arriving this year.

According to the Polish MoD, the aircraft procured rolled off the production line in 1985 and then were decommissioned in 2017. After that, they were stored at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group facility (AMARG) in Tucson, Arizona. The above makes them 15 years younger than the C-130s currently operated by the Polish Air Force.

The technical status of the aircraft was assessed during the so-called Joint Visual Inspection procedure. It took place at AMARG in Tucson, stated the Inspectorate. The cost of the transfer to Poland was also a subject of this process.

C-130 Hercules takeoff landing gear
An Illinois Air National Guard C-130 Hercules takes off at Fort Carson in Colorado, September 12, 2016.

Then, after the transfer, the aircraft would undergo the periodic, scheduled maintenance (Programmed Depot Maintenance – PDM) at the WZL Nr 2 S.A. facility in Bydgoszcz, Poland. Bydgoszcz is also going to be the place where extra equipment, as required by the Polish Air Force, would be fitted onto the aircraft. Then the airframes are expected to become a part of the inventory of the 33rd Airlift Base in Powidz.

It has been pointed out by the experts that both the engines, as well as the propellers, along with the avionics, may need to be upgraded. What upgrades would be done within that scope remains unclear. However, to make the acquisition reasonable, the AMARG restoration work should also include an upgrade similar to the ones carried out in case of the ANG aircraft: a set of new T-56 Rolls Royce 3.5 engines and NP2000 eight-bladed propellers with electronic controls.

The PGZ Group’s WZL facility in Bydgoszcz provides the Polish Air Force with a relevant maintenance capability regarding the Hercules.

The Polish MoD was putting the airlift capability enhancements in the modernization plans – the procurement was designated as the Drop program. It involved Leonardo S.p.A., Airbus Defence & Space, Embraer, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing, but it was ultimately suspended in July last year. It seems that Poland went with second-hand airframes to serve as an intermediary gap-filler solution.

Krzysztof Płatek, spokesman for the Armament Inspectorate told us that the Drop program is to follow a schedule that is confidential. Procurement of the AMARG C-130s would diminish the pressure caused by deadlines and time.

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