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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Dubai Air Show: Boeing extends successful run, Airbus struggles

A Boeing 737 is shown in this undated photo.  (Jason Alden/Bloomberg)
By Siddharth Philip Bloomberg

Boeing Co. extended its successful order haul on the second day of the Dubai Air Show, winning a deal from Ethiopian Airlines for more narrow- and wide-body aircraft while rival Airbus SE continued to chase an increasingly elusive deal with Emirates.

Ethiopian will buy 20 737-8 short-haul aircraft, as well as 11 787-9 Dreamliners, with options to expand the order to as many as 67 aircraft.

Speaking at a news conference, Ethiopian Chief Executive Officer Mesfin Tasew Bekele said his airline would continue its fleet renewal push in coming years.

“We have a growth plan that requires us to buy more aircraft,” Bekele said. “Our vision is that by 2035 we should be one of the top 20 leading airlines.”

It wasn’t an entirely unsuccessful day for Airbus, which pulled in an order from EgyptAir for 10 of its A350-900s.

But the manufacturer found itself at the receiving end of some harsh criticism from Emirates President Tim Clark, who said that the A350-1000 model doesn’t meet his technical requirements because the engines need too much maintenance.

As a result, he wouldn’t order the plane before the engine was upgraded, Clark said.

Boeing on Monday concluded a major deal with Emirates, while Airbus’ hopes for a similar accord looked increasingly bleak.

Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines share a difficult recent past, following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max in March 2019.

The crash killed everyone on board and contributed to the grounding of Boeing’s cash-cow model amid concerns that design flaws had contributed to the accident.

“We have checked and confirmed that the design defects of the aircraft have been fully corrected by Boeing and we have renewed our confidence in that aircraft,” Bekele said. “The accident with the Max was a very sad accident, it has left a big scar in our memory.”

Bekele also said his company is considering an order for Airbus’s smaller A220, but will hold off until an issue with the Pratt & Whitney-built engine is resolved.