“This is a good way to start the show, isn’t it,” a smiling Ray Conner, chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, told the press.
Conner was speaking only seconds after Etihad Airways opened the show by signing a stunning deal worth up to $25.2 billion at list prices for up to 82 aircraft, including 56 firm orders split between the 777-8X, 777-9X and 787-10.
But even that order was quickly relegated to almost a footnote in a day-long orgy of commercial aircraft orders inside the Al Maktoum exhibition centre.
In a region full of big spenders, Emirates Airlines again topped them all. The Dubai-based carrier signed firm orders for 150 777X aircraft and 50 A380s, plus options for 50 more 777X aircraft, with a combined list value of $99 billion.
By the end of the day, Emirates had placed new orders and pledges for 229 aircraft from eight different types.
Emirates Group-owned FlyDubai contributed commitments for up to 111 737 aircraft, including 100 of the re-engined and updated Max derivative. Qatar Airways committed to buy up to 50 777X aircraft and ordered five A330-200 Freighters, after which Etihad swooped for up to 117 A320neos, A330Freighters and A350 XWBs.
But the star of the air show’s first day was definitively Boeing’s latest product – the 777X. The 269 orders and commitments, including 34 previously announced by Lufthansa, push the 777 family past the 747 as the highest-selling widebody in history.