Dubai Air Show 2021: Recap of First Full Day, Airbus Dominates!

Photo: Dubai Air Show

LONDON – And just like that, the first day of the Dubai Air Show comes to a close, with only two major order announcements placed today.

There were a couple of highlights of note at the air show today, so without further ado, let’s get into it.

Fly-Past to Celebrate 50 Years of Unity

The airshow started off with a civil, air display, and military flypast celebrating the UAE’s 50th jubilee, of which Emirates states demonstrates the “nation’s remarkable aviation and aerospace capabilities”.

The Emirates Boeing 777-300ER display aircraft were emblazoned with the bespoke ‘United Arab Emirates 50’ livery, with the A380 from the carrier featuring the Expo 2020 Dubai livery with the special ‘Dubai Expo’ and ‘Be Part of the Magic’ messages running across both sides of the fuselage.

The fly-past started with an Etihad Airways Boeing 787 which flew at an altitude of 700 feet, which was accompanied by the Al Fursan air display team.

It was then trailed by the Emirates 777, hovering above the crowds at 900 feet, followed by an A380 at 1,100 feet, an Air Arabia A320 at 1,300 feet, and a flydubai Boeing 737 at 1,500 feet, to get this airshow underway!

Indigo Partners Goes Nuts Once Again with Order for 255 Airbus Aircraft

Indigo Partners once again decided to go crazy with the aircraft orders, starting Airbus’ sales campaign with a whopping 255-strong order consisting of:

  • Wizz Air: 102 aircraft (75 A321neo + 27 A321XLR)
  • Frontier: 91 aircraft (A321neo)
  • Volaris: 39 aircraft (A321neo)
  • JetSMART: 23 aircraft (21 A321neo + 2 A321XLR)

It was big news for the A320 Family production line but also for the XLR, which secured around 29 orders, offering a very good start to proceedings.

For Indigo, this means that their order book is at a whopping four-digit figure of 1,145 A320 Family aircraft in the backlog.

So, for the first day, Airbus have absolutely bounced off of Boeing’s much smaller order, as will be discussed now.

Boeing Kickstarts Sales Campaign with Converted Freighter Order

Boeing announced plans to open three new freighter conversion lines and signed a firm order with Icelease for 11 737-800 Boeing Converted Freighters. (Photo credit: Boeing)

Boeing has started off its Dubai Air Show order takings with Icelease placing an order for 11 737-800 Freighters.

This order is going alongside new conversion lines to be opened with KF Aerospace in Canada and at Boeing’s London Gatwick MRO in the UK.

Icelease will be the launch customer for the new conversion line at London Gatwick, hence why this has all been linked together.

This new order now means that more than 200 737-800BCFs across 19 customers have now been ordered, slowly offering the success that this conversion program is beginning to experience.

Airbus A350″F” Could Begin Sales Campaign at DAS21

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

According to Bloomberg, Airbus is currently in ongoing talks with Air Lease at the Dubai Air Show for a significant order that includes the A350 Freighter.

It is understood that the talks are ongoing and may even go past the Dubai Air Show, with those on the inside saying that the order could still fall apart.

For Air Lease, any orders made at the airshow this week or elsewhere will be a result of beginning to take jets from 2026 and would represent a top-up on orders that are going to be on delivery through 2023.

With the A350 Freighter potentially in the mix for Air Lease, if a deal is struck, then this will begin the sales campaign of that variant of the A350.


Whilst it has been a quiet day, the quality of the orders has been strong in its own respect.

It looks like already a lot of mistakes from Boeing are emerging out of this air show, with the decision not to push forward with a 777X freighter just yet, to the A320 Family securing more orders and market share of the likes of the MAX.

It will be interesting to see what tomorrow holds and whether Airbus can secure that deal with Air Lease or not because giving them a top-up, as well as a good introduction to the A350F, will play massive favors for them going into the cargo market.

All eyes are now on Boeing for the next move and to see what orders they have tucked in their back pocket.

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