Farnborough 2008: Traffic, heat and Gulf carrier orders

So it’s business as usual then at Farnborough 2008. The traffic to get into the show was torrid. The temperature gauge is rising. And it is carriers from the Middle East that are splashing the cash.

It’s now mid-afternoon and main attraction for the next hour is the only flight here of the US Air Force Raptor F-22 fast military jet. That is until Etihad Airways makes its second monster order of the day at Airbus at 1600.

You would be forgiven for wondering just what is the problem with the airline industry at the moment. Oil may be at over $140 a barrel, but FlyDubai with their 54 737 orders and Etihad with its 35 787s and 10 777s are ploughing on regardless.

Some selected quotes from the Boeing, FlyDubai and Etihad managers here at the show:

Scott Carson, CEO, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, welcoming the media at his opening press conference on Monday: “Let the games begin as they say.”

Carson, as he stops talking about environmental issues in the air transport industry as the Red Arrows take off to practice: “Well I don’t think that was open rotor [the promised quiet new engine technology]“.

James Hogan, CEO, Etihad Airways: “We are on track to achieve breakeven in 2010, but the price of fuel has put us under a lot of pressure – we’ll see what happens in the next six months.”

Shiekh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, chairman of FlyDubai, when asked if his low-cost carrier would be based on the JetBlue or Southwest business model: “We will have our own model and it’s called FlyDubai.”

In typically understated fashion, HH Dr Sheikh Ahmed bin Saif Al Nahyan, chairman of Etihad Airways: “Our relationship with Boeing is reinforced with today’s announcement.” His carrier ordered 35 787s and 10 777s!

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