Middle East Show Attracts BizAv's Big Guns

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It used to be that the major aviation trade shows -- with exception of Farnborough and the Paris Air Show -- were all in the U.S. during the spring, summer and fall. Not anymore. Now, with EBACE, LABACE, and shows in Singapore and elsewhere in Asia, it's more a matter of which show is being held this month. And the answer is the Middle East Business Aviation (MEBA), which runs today and tomorrow in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, highlighting the industry's growth potential in that region. While AVweb isn't there, most of the big players seem to be, and were already touting their major announcements this week. For example, Airbus put aside its ongoing A380 troubles long enough to announce it had won two new customers for VIP versions of its ultra-long-haul A340s -- one for an A340-500 and one for an A340-300. The airframer said the market for VIP-configured widebody aircraft has been increasingly active in recent years, with the company booking its first firm order for a VIP A340-600 in 2005, plus a VIP A330-200 for an undisclosed customer, in 2006. The company said its latest sales build on a customer base of 40 or so VIP and government versions of Airbus widebodies already in service.

The MEBA, put together by the Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA), will feature a static display of 31 aircraft, out of a grand total of 90 exhibitors from 20 countries. Among pre-show highlights, Raytheon Aircraft Company announced Saudi Arabia's National Air Services ordered up to 20 copies of the new Hawker 750 midsize jet, making it the international launch customer for the new bizjet, which was announced last year at the NBAA annual convention. Additionally, the U.K.'s Farnborough Aircraft Corporation Limited will bring its new metal-and-composite turbine single, the Kestrel, to Dubai, and Kingfisher Airlines said it plans to place orders for new turboprop and jet aircraft. Details weren't available, although the carrier ordered 15 aircraft from Airbus last year in Paris, including five A380s. Look for more news and details on this show in upcoming issues of AVweb's business aviation coverage.