Boeing's top commercial sales executives expect an "exciting", albeit unpredictable, Dubai air show for aircraft orders, as the company remains upbeat on the region's sales prospects despite the growing political turmoil that has roiled airline balance sheets.
During a press conference on the eve of the show, Marty Bentrott – Boeing sales vice-president for the Middle East – declined to predict any specific orders, citing the last-minute nature of order discussions at previous Dubai air shows.
"As with everything in Dubai, we'll see," Bentrott says. "But it's never a dull moment here. We have a lot of customer engagements, and it's going to be quite busy."
Bentrott did set a ceiling on expectations, however, when asked whether this show could compare to the 2013 event, when four airlines in the region combined to place aircraft orders worth more than $170 billion in list value.
"I don't think any air show in many years will get to that value," Bentrott says. "But, like I say, it will be a good show."
As political tension escalates across the region, Etihad Airways remains in a restructuring process and Qatar Airways expects to end this year in the red.
But Boeing officials cited Emirates' recent first-half financial results, which showed significant gains in revenues and profits despite the regional instability.
"This is going to be a very positive backdrop to the Dubai air show," Bentrott says.
He also confirms that Emirates has committed to becoming the launch operator for the 777-9 upon a first delivery scheduled in early 2020. Lufthansa previously expected to be launch operator, but has dropped back in line as it reviews widebody fleet plans.