US aircraft manufacturer Boeing said it was confident about its growth in the Gulf region despite challenges in the aviation industry over the past few years.
Speaking at a press conference on Saturday ahead of the Dubai Air Show, Boeing’s top executives said the aviation environment was improving, and that the company was not too concerned about possible order cancellations. The company described the Middle East as a “key growth market” for commercial, defence, space, and service businesses. “We remain very confident in the marketplace; we remain very confident in our customers here. Relative to the backlog in the region, we don’t have any significant concerns about [our aircraft deliveries] at this particular juncture. We haven’t had enormous amounts of deferrals, we haven’t had cancellations,” said Marty Bentrott, vice president of sales for Boeing’s commercial aeroplanes for the Middle East, Turkey, Russia, and Central Asia.
He said that Boeing is working with its customers to make adjustments, but that was just part of usual changes that depend on every airline’s needs, and stressed that that did not have to do with deferring or cancelling backlog. Discussing the improvement in the operating environment in the region, Bentrott cited Emirates airline’s financial performance for the first half of 2017. The carrier said on Thursday its net profit more than doubled year-on-year to reach Dh1.7 billion, though that was strongly driven by a weakness in the US dollar relative to other currencies. The sales vice president also cited improvements in yields and traffic — both of which provide a positive backdrop for the Dubai Air Show, he said. “It (challenges) is never over because we’re in a very dynamic business, and things are always changing relative to global economic changes, but [Emirates’ results are] a positive sign amid months of negative growth that things have perked back up,” Bentrott said. He added, “I was over at the Emirates headquarters just the other day. They feel, in terms of forward bookings, [that’s] looking very positive, so at least from that standpoint here in Dubai, things are feeling better than they were, say, six months ago.”
During the press conference, executives from Boeing said the company’s operations in Saudi Arabia were unaffected by the country’s recent anti-corruption drive, which led to the arrest of many top government officials. “We’ve been a long partner for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and we will continue to do so. There’s absolutely no change. We consider the Kingdom to be a very strong partner, and we are going ahead with our plans,” said Ahmad Jazzar, president of Boeing Saudi Arabia. During the Air Show, which runs from November 12-16, Boeing will be showcasing its 787-10 Dreamliner, the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft simulator, flydubai’s 737 MAX, and Emirates’ 777-300ER. Boeing will also have representatives from its newest business unit, Boeing Global Services, to meet potential customers and discuss opportunities in post-delivery services that Boeing can provide.