At the ongoing Dubai Airshow 2013, which runs in its 13th edition, major and minor aircraft makers and civil aviation technology producers from the United States lure mega-orders from the oil-rich Gulf region.
This year's Dubai Airshow is the biggest ever, with presence of over 1,000 exhibitors and 88 participating firms.
The United States runs the biggest country pavilion on Dubai's new airport Al-Maktoum International, where the Dubai Airshow is held for the first time.
The world's largest aircraft manufacturer Boeing has made big gains at the event. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Dubai's state-owned Emirates Airline, announced his company would buy 150 Boeing planes of the latest 777X version for 76 billion U.S. dollars, along with 50 purchase rights. The deal represented the largest single purchase in the history of civil aviation.
At the same time, Qatar Airways chief executives announced they had purchased 50 Boeing 777-9X for 18.9 billion U.S. dollars.
This led Boeing chairman McNerny to praise the Gulf carriers as key drivers in the future of civil aviation. Amid growing competition in passenger air traffic and constantly high oil prices which lift jet fuel costs for airliners, U.S. aircraft makers face an uphill struggle in other parts of the world which do not have oil reserves.
Both airline chairmen said that their orders would secure 100, 000 jobs in the civil aviation industry in the United States, in the Gulf region and globally.
Because Gulf Arab carriers know how urgently the Unites States is in need of securing jobs in the civil aviation industry, Emirates Airline and Qatar Airways negotiated together with Boeing, in order to get attractive deals as they said at a joint press conference with Boeing.
Qatar Airways chief executive said the negotiations were "very successful for both of us," and the joint action with Emirates proved that there was no intense rivalry between the two biggest carriers in the Gulf region, "as some journalists always claimed.
Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi, the neighboring emirate of Dubai and capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), joined the buying spree, saying it had ordered 25 Boeing 777X planes at 25.2 billion dollars. The Boeing 777X, the latest version of the long-range wide-body jet airliner which the Chicago-based aircraft company unveiled in April this year, is capable of carrying up to 400 passengers to a maximum distance of 17,220 kilometers.
Etihad chief executive James Hogan also said it would order jet engines from GE Aviation, the aviation arm of America's biggest technology group General Electric (GE), for 56 Boeing wide-body aircraft.
The success of Unites States' firms at the Dubai airshow reflects the ample growth of passenger traffic in the region.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Middle East recorded a year on year traffic growth of 10.4 percent last Sept., outperforming global growth by 4.7 percent. The region had been outperforming all other parts of the world throughout 2013 (as yet).
Whilst Germany's state-owned carrier Lufthansa ordered likewise 777X planes in Sept. this year, the order is with 34 jetliners much smaller than the Gulf carrier's buying spree.
According to Boeing-rival Airbus, 50 percent of the 3 billion passengers worldwide in 2012 were from the emerging markets, "but by 2030, the share will rise to 70 percent emerging market passengers, while 30 percent will come from the developed countries." And Ray Conner, president and chief executive of Boeing commercial airplanes said that carriers globally would purchase planes worth 1.2 trillion dollars within the next five years.
But the Gulf states do not want to be pure consumers. As a reciprocal move, Boeing agreed with Abu Dhabi-based Tawazun precision industries to establish a joint production aerospace surface treatment facility, the first of its kind in the Middle East. With the Emirati sovereign wealth fund Mubadala, Boeing expanded an existing partnership of their joint aerospace manufacturing program in the UAE, under which Mubadala will supply composites and machined metals for 2.5 billion dollars for Boeing jetliners, including the latest Boeing 777X planes announced in April.
Smaller players from the Unites States are upbeat about demand from the region. Richard W. Emery, the president Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific at Beechcraft, a producer of smaller propeller-powered (also called turboprop) commercial aircraft headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, said the Middle East is a very important market for Beechcraft. "The first three days of the Dubai Airshow have been very good for us, especially in relation to the quality of clients who are specially said in planes like our flagship turboprop plane KingAir for special missions such as aerial survey, aerial ambulance or environmental impact," said Emery.
He added that Beechcraft, which managed to avoid bankruptcy earlier in the year, emerged as a much stronger and healthier company. "We delivered globally 163 planes in the first three quarters of this year over 111 planes in the same period last year, " said Emerich who added that firms, government institutions as well wealthy individuals and politicians became Beechcraft customers in the Gulf region.
And U.S. helicopter producer Bell Beside Bell announced that Abu Dhabi Aviation, the largest commercial helicopter operator in the Middle East operating 54 aircraft, will take delivery of the first Bell 412EPI, the latest product of the Texas-based firm.
Abu Dhabi Aviation will get the first Bell 412EPI ever produced and will employ it for offshore oilfield support in the UAE. Abu Dhabi Aviation has been operating Bell helicopters for more than 30 years, "and we are honored that we continue to get the trust in providing them with the reliable aircraft for challenging missions, " said Danny Maldonado, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Bell.