The Dubai air show is almost a victim of its own success: previous blockbuster orders have raised expectations that the buying spree will be repeated every two years.
And although the previous edition saw little commercial activity, there was still significant defence spending – surprise deals for tiltrotors, surveillance aircraft and, yes, even jetpacks, were signed.
But a malaise afflicts the region’s airlines: Emirates has slowed its previous rapid growth; Etihad is licking its wounds following several ill-fated investments; and a diplomatic row precludes Qatar’s attendance.
Besides, all three carriers have significant numbers of aircraft, ordered four years ago, still to be delivered.
All of this would seem to rule out a reprise of the previous multi-billion dollar splurges; more a case of Abu Dhabi don’t, rather than Dubai buy buy.
Despite this backdrop, there remains the sense that something substantial will still be announced.
The United Arab Emirates has long been seeking new multirole fighters to replace its aged Dassault Mirage 2000s. Neighbouring states – Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar, to name but three –have also been investing, perhaps at last prompting a response.
Do not rule out the country’s big two carriers either: times may be tough, but sometimes being on home turf can dictate the agenda.