Airbus vs Boeing: Who Won The Dubai Airshow?

On Thursday, the sun set on the 2021 edition of the Dubai Airshow. While some aircraft orders are finalized at airshows, others are made in the months leading up to the show, with the signing saved for the big occasion when hundreds of journalists are already on site.

Airbus, Boeing, Dubai Airshow
Boeing and Airbus both clocked new aircraft orders at the Dubai Airshow. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

There was always the chance that the Dubai Airshow may be slightly subdued in terms of orders as the industry’s recovery starts to gather pace. However, this wasn’t the case. Overall, the number of commercial aircraft orders actually exceeded 2019’s figures for both manufacturers.

Airbus steals the show

Airbus well and truly stole the show in terms of the number of orders placed, clocking over 400 orders at the first major aviation event since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. It was looking as though there would be no significant orders on the first day of the show when Indigo Partners revealed an order for 255 jets with an hour to go.

Airbus, Boeing, Dubai Airshow
Airbus revealed its first A350F orders at the show. Photo: Airbus

Things slowed down slightly on the second day when leasing company ALC signed an order for 111 aircraft, including seven A350 freighters. The last commercial aircraft orders were placed on the show’s third day, with Jazeera Airways committing to 28 Airbus A321neos, while Nigeria’s Ibom Air firmed up an order for ten A220s.

Boeing showed off the 777X

While Airbus stole the show with orders, all eyes were on Boeing’s 777X, which debuted at the Dubai Airshow. While it was undoubtedly the center of attention, Boeing didn’t manage to book any new orders for its next-gen twinjet.

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Boeing’s order book was slightly smaller than Airbus’ but had much more of a cargo focus. On the show’s first day, Icelease placed an order for 11 converted 737-800 freighters. This was followed by DHL Express ordering nine 767-300 converted freighters on the second day. The second day also saw Emirates ordering two new Boeing 777 freighters, though airline President Tim Clark later revealed that he would’ve liked more jets, telling a round table,

“[The two freighters] were replacements for two aircraft that went off-lease, went back to the lessor, and have then subsequently been placed. We wanted to replace those… we’re trying to get hold of more, Boeing can’t actually give us them.”

Boeing 777X, Freighter, Emirates
The Boeing 777X was the highlight of the show for many. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

To wrap things up, the American manufacturer booked a few more orders on the third day of the show, with Sky One FZE purchasing three 777-300s in the morning. Air Tanzania then placed Boeing’s next commercial order of the show later that day, ordering a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, a 767 freighter, and two Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. Finally, the manufacturer scored big on the show’s last day, with Indian startup Akasa Air ordering 72 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

So what was the score?

Totting up all the orders mentioned above pushes Airbus into the lead with 404 commercial aircraft orders (220 in 2019). Meanwhile, Boeing was slightly further behind, announcing orders for just 101 planes (97 in 2019) throughout the week.

Who was the winner of the Dubai Airshow in your eyes? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!