Dubai Air Show 2021 Day 2 Recap: Airbus Cruises Ahead With Orders, A350 Freighter Steals The Show

Photo: Dubai Air Show

LONDON – After what has been a busier day at the Dubai Air Show, Airbus has once again been in the highlights for aircraft orders, especially with the introduction of the A350 Freighter to its sales strategy.

As will be discussed in this recap, Boeing seems to be continuing ahead with the Converted Freighter orders, with Airbus acquiring sales on an all-around basis.

Finally, Embraer has also joined the sales tallies, as we will now discuss:


Photo: Embraer

Embraer only secured one order today, with Overland Airways of Nigeria placing a firm order for three E175s, with options for an additional three.

The $299.4m deal will commence deliveries going into 2023, with the President & CEO of Overland Airways, Captain Edward Boyo, expressing great confidence with the manufacturer:

“These aircraft will increase the domestic flights and allow to expand more regional routes, [which is why] we are confident that this is the right moment to invest, as regional aviation is on an optimistic post-pandemic recovery. Our customers will really enjoy all comfort in the E175, and we appreciate our partnership with Embraer.”

There is still time yet in this airshow for Embraer to get some sales for the E2 Family, but who will purchase them is unclear, due to the Brazilian manufacturer holding its cards to its chest.


Boeing secured two orders at the airshow today, amounting to around 11 units sold.

Boeing and DHL Express signed an agreement for 9 firm orders for the 767-300 Boeing Converted Freighter. (Photo credit: Boeing)

The first order came from DHL Express for nine 767-300BCFs (Converted Freighters), continuing on from yesterday’s theme of freighter-only orders from the manufacturer so far.

This of course comes as no surprise, given the extra cargo demand and capacity, there has been during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The second-order came from Emirates, of which some of it was actually for the manufacturer.

The $1bn investment from the UAE carrier will see two more 777 Freighters enter the airline’s cargo wing of SkyCargo, with the airline also signing deals with Israel Aerospace Industries to convert four of its 777-300ERs already in the fleet to 777-300ERFs (Extended Range Freighters).

Konstantin von Wedelstaedt (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2 ), via Wikimedia Commons

Such investment has been made in order to keep up with such demand and be able to operate more flights globally. Emirates has already been using some -300ERs for cargo work, which is where the motivation for this order has come from.

The team at AviationSource is under the sneaking suspicion that Boeing may save their larger, more significant orders towards the end of the trading week in Dubai.

With there being a lot of focus around the 777X at the air show, we could potentially see a new customer or new order, but this is purely speculative at this point. All we can do is sit and wait on that front.


ATR rather quietly announced an order with Romanian carrier TAROM for three ATR72-600 aircraft as part of the airline’s fleet modernization plans on the regional scale.

The deal will also see the airline upscale its ATR42-500 fleet to the larger 72 seat ATR72-600 prop, offering the airline more flexibility and efficiency in its choices.

Commenting on the news was TAROM’s CEO Catalin Prunariu:

“Having been an ATR pilot, I have witnessed first-hand, the importance of the connectivity that they provide. They are an essential link to communities all over Romania. As a CEO, I also see the value of their efficiency and flexibility.”

But this of course means that the French manufacturer also joins the tally sheet, as you will see later on in this article.

ATR also secured an order with Air Corsica for five new ATR72-600 aircraft as well. These five will be powered by the new Pratt & Whitney Canada Engine, the PW127XT, also announced today, with deliveries starting by November 2022.

Stefano Bortoli, ATR’s Chief Executive Officer, stated: “We at ATR are very proud to have an historic customer like Air Corsica, with ongoing confidence in our aircraft to support its growth and modernisation strategy. In choosing ATR, Air Corsica has made a strategic decision that is both economical and responsible: it is the most cost-effective solution for operating regional routes, with the most environmentally friendly technology available on the market.”

Marie-Hélène Casanova-Servas, President of Air Corsica’s Supervisory Board, commented: “When carrying out a public service mission, there’s a multitude of factors to consider: what is the most reliable, efficient, cost-effective and modern aircraft? And for a territory as preserved as Corsica, we also pay a specific attention to the environmental impact of our aircraft. This is why we have chosen the latest version of the ATR 72-600, to continue the modernisation of our fleet, started end 2019.”

ATR and Binter Canarias today write another chapter in their long shared history, as the Canary Islands airline signs a firm order for four ATR 72-600 aircraft, with an option for a further one. The deal marks the final step in Binter’s plan to replace its remaining ATR 72-500 aircraft with the latest-generation ATR. The airline will use the aircraft to ensure the continuation of the vital air links that the ATR fleet has provided. Regional air connectivity has been shown to support economic growth in the communities it serves, with a study showing that a 10% increase in regional flights leads to a 6% increase in local GDP. Thanks to its efficiency and versatility, serving locations other aircraft simply cannot go, the ATR -600 has become the leading turboprop on the market with a share of 75% of orders over the last 10 years.

Rodolfo Nunez President of Binter Canarias said: “Ever since its first delivery ATR aircraft had an immediate and enduring impact on our operations. The ATR 72-600 has become our flagship aircraft and with 23 of them in our fleet, upon the completion of these deliveries, it provides the backbone of air connectivity throughout the Canary Islands. This deal for five aircraft represents a significant investment but it will ensure that the many benefits, such as supporting local businesses and facilitating easier transport for locals and tourists alike, will continue.”

ATR CEO, Stefano Bortoli, remarked: “We have had a long partnership with Binter Canarias and ever since their first ATR delivery, we have seen them go from strength to strength as an airline. This makes their reaffirmation of faith in our product a real seal of approval. It shows that our ATR has been reliable and cost-efficient and that the passengers have enjoyed the experience on board. We will continue to introduce innovations that offer real value to airlines to provide the most sustainable and economic solution for connecting local communities.”


For Airbus, only one order was announced, but the size was nearly comparable to that of yesterday with Indigo Partners.

The European planemaker renewed its relationship with leasing giant Air Lease who placed an order for 111 aircraft, with the breakdown being the following:

  • 25 A220-300s
  • 55 A321neos
  • 20 A321XLR
  • 4 A330-900
  • 7 A350 Freighters

The last aircraft in that list is quite significant as now, Airbus has got orders secured for the freighter variant of the A350, which was approved back in July by the board.

As Jon Ostrower of The Air Current pointed out on social media, the A350 Freighter looks to be the test-bed for single-pilot operations, which will be the next game-changer in the manufacturer’s approach to commonality.

If it succeeds well on the perspective of the A350 Freighter, then there is nothing to say that commonality across all other types may become a reality in the next decade or two.

On top of this, more orders confirmed for the XLR means that Airbus is nailing on the head exactly what the market is requiring in order to facilitate a new type of travel post-pandemic.

Even so, more orders for the A320 Family isn’t necessarily surprising or significant, because it just adds to the endless backlog.

However, the A220 and A330neo do get a good boost in this order, both preserving production lines and keeping backlogs on that side healthy as well.

The Numbers So Far…

So, with the airshow concluding on Day 2, we may as well begin to look at the numbers so far after 48 hours of trading.

Bear in mind that the following numbers below include all types of order, whether it be firm, letter of intent, memorandum of understandings and options.

  • Boeing: 22
  • Airbus: 366
  • Embraer: 6
  • ATR: 13

So, what we can see is that from just two orders, Airbus has given themselves a very healthy advantage in terms of the number of orders.

Photo: Dirk Grothe

As for Boeing, as mentioned previously in the article, there could be a chance that they unveil a very strong order or two that would get them up to the same numbers as Airbus, but again purely speculative.

In theory, if they don’t have that in their back pocket, then this could be portrayed or conveyed as quite embarrassing, yet not surprising, given the issues with the 737 MAX, 787, and 777X.

For Embraer, the order numbers are generally not as high as the likes of Boeing and Airbus, but we would anticipate seeing some more orders from the Brazilian manufacturer.

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