Planemakers eye further deals at Dubai Airshow

DUBAI (Reuters) – Global aerospace firms sought at the Dubai Airshow on Tuesday to build on signs of a tentative recovery from a global pandemic that has shattered the industry’s profits, while talking up efforts to address concerns over climate change.

After major orders for narrowbody jets and a new freighter, Airbus was seeking a contract for up to 30 A320neo narrowbody jets from Kuwait’s Jazeera Airways but the deal was subject to tough last-minute negotiations, delegates said.

Both airlines and some of their suppliers are seen as keen to showcase signs of an industry recovery, using the deadline of air show publicity to try to win last minute concessions.

But the pace of orders was slower than in previous editions of the Middle East event and mainly restricted to narrowbody jets that are in highest demand from low-cost carriers, while demand for wide-body jets underpinning Gulf carriers was scarce.

The airline industry is gearing up to cope with pent-up travel demand in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, but the Delta variant of COVID-19 has pushed a recovery back by some 4-5 months, Tim Clark, president of host Emirates airline, said.

He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the first major event of its kind since the pandemic hammered travel demand worldwide.

The talks between Airbus and Kuwait’s Jazeera come after the airline’s chairman, Marwan Boodai, told Reuters this month the budget carrier was aiming to buy jets worth up to $2 billion.

Indian startup Akasa Air, backed by billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, was widely expected to finalise an order for around 70 Boeing 737 MAX jets, in a move that will help the U.S. planemaker regain lost ground in a fast-growing market.

Akasa said last month that it expected to start flying next year after getting initial clearance to launch the country’s latest ultra-low-cost carrier.

Reuters reported in September that Boeing was close to winning an order for 70-100 jets from Akasa, pending separate talks on a long-term engine service deal.

(Reporting by Tim Hepher, Alexander Cornwell, Aditi Shah, Jamie Freed; Editing by Keith Weir)

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