Boeing courts the Middle East

While Airbus has raked in orders at the Dubai Airshow, which started Sunday, its rival Boeing has sought to expand its presence in the Middle East.

Over the first two days of the air show, Airbus collected orders for its A320 and A350 jets. The Toulouse, France-based jet maker won an order for 12 of its new A350 XWB aircraft, pushing the A350’s order tally over 500. Airbus aims to deliver its first A350, a jet built with composites, in 2013.

Airbus also logged an order Monday for 10 A320s for Yemenia Airlines. Boeing did not announce any new aircraft orders Sunday or Monday at the air show.

But the Chicago-based Boeing said it signed an agreement with Abu Dhabi’s state investment vehicle Mubadala Development Co. to collaborate on multiple projects designed to help the UAE’s largest emirate build an aerospace industry as it seeks to diversify its economy beyond the oil patch.

Homaid al-Shemmari, associate director of Mubadala Aerospace, said in an interview with The Associated Press the agreement could involve joint projects ranging from an aerospace museum and training programs to the production of composite aircraft parts in the emirate.

“Boeing is committed to help Mubadala and Abu Dhabi’s ambitions of creating this aerospace industry,” he said. “They’re going to be helping us develop our engineering capabilities.”

No financial terms were released, though al-Shemmari said the deal did not signal plans by Mubadala to deepen its investment in U.S. manufacturing by taking an equity stake in Boeing.

Boeing’s deal with Abu Dhabi is not the sheikdom’s first foray into the aerospace industry. Mubadala inked a deal with Airbus parent EADS to produce and supply parts for Airbus at the U.K.’s Farnborough International Airshow last year.

Other announcements from the Dubai Airshow:

  • Airbus’ “Sharklets”: Airbus launched its new wingtip devices for its single-aisle A320 jets. Similar to Boeing’s winglets, offered for its 737 and 767 aircraft, Airbus’ “sharklets” will help reduce aeronautical drag, improving fuel efficiency. Air New Zealand will be Airbus’ first A320 sharklet customer.

    Emirates ponders orders: The head of Dubai’s Emirates airline told reporters the carrier is in talks with Boeing and Airbus for additional planes, though it’s unclear whether any deal will be announced at this week’s show. Sheik Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said Emirates is considering new purchases of Boeing 777s and Airbus A330s. He did not give details on the size of the possible orders but said it could be “tens” of aircraft.

    Airbus deliveries: Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders said the company is on track to at least meet its 2008 delivery total of 483. Enders also expects to log in 200 to 300 new orders this year.

    The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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