A Senior Executive from Airbus said that the European plane maker is on track to secure orders for more than 50 aircraft in the Middle East and North Africa this year as the industry recovers from a dismal 2009. Business with airlines in the region has been picking up since last year when the global economic downturn hit air travel and forced some carriers to scale back expansion plans.
Last year, Airbus received orders for 40 planes from Middle Eastern airlines and in January, executives were forecasting 2010 orders of 40-50 aircraft.
In Cairo, Airbus’s president for the Middle East Habib Fekih, said “Experience is showing the fast recovery is there, and it is faster than expected,” adding “Traffic is growing, demand is back.”
Fekih said Airbus had been working with two scenarios for Middle East and North Africa orders this year. “I think we still have a chance to do something in between,” he said. The cancellation by Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) “is part of normal life for leasing companies. They were ambitious and they are revising their forecasts.”
“It’s just a small drop in the evolution of the order book, then we will recover before the end of the year.” He shrugged off a decision by Bahrain state carrier Gulf Air to switch some plane orders from wide-body to narrow-body aircraft.
Also, Airbus has received orders for 105 Airbus A380 superjumbo jets in the region and has delivered 11 of them so far. Fekih said the plane maker was still targeting more customers. “There are two to three airlines in the region that could easily absorb the A380. Egyptair is one, Saudi Arabian Airlines is another. I don’t exclude some interest from these customers.”
The A319, A320, and A321 aircraft are a family of short to medium range, narrow body, commercial passenger jet planes belonging to the Airbus A320 family. The A380 on the other hand is a double-deck, wide body, four-engine airplane.