Boeing, Airbus Gear Up for Dubai Air Show

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The 2013 edition of the Dubai Air Show was a bonanza for Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA). The company took orders for 259 new jets valued at more than $100 billion at list prices. The 2015 show begins this coming weekend and the odds line up against a repeat performance.

Reuters reported Wednesday morning that Boeing will not make the changes to its 787-10 that have been requested by Emirates. The airline’s CEO had raised questions about the plane’s ability to carry passengers and freight on flights of more than eight hours owing to the high temperatures in the Gulf countries.

Boeing’s reluctance to alter the specifications for the 787-10 likely led Emirates earlier this year to defer until 2016 a decision on whether to purchase as many as 100 new planes, either the 787-10 and the Airbus A350-900. Reuters reports that Boeing’s vice-president of marketing for commercial airplanes said that the company “really likes what we have” on the 787-10 and that it will be “the most efficient airplane” the company has ever built.

And Boeing is not alone in getting some pressure from Emirates. The airline wants Airbus to put a new engine on the A380 super-jumbo jet to improve the plane’s fuel-efficiency by about 10%. Airbus has dithered because Emirates is the only customer it has for such an airplane, and even though Emirates has said it will buy 200 of the planes if Airbus builds them, the aircraft maker remains wary.

While Airbus has not formally announced a decision on whether it will accede to Emirates and build a re-engined A380, it remains unlikely that it would build the new plane for a single customer, even if that customer is willing to place a huge order. If another customer should turn up, though, Airbus could change its tune.

A current A380 carries a list price of $428 million and an order for 200 of the planes would be worth $85.6 billion. That’s real money. If a second customer were to turn up and Airbus were to agree to re-engine the A380, the Dubai Air Show is the most likely place for those announcements to take place.

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