Sales of grounded Boeing jets lift off at Dubai Airshow

Abu Dhabi’s flagship carrier Etihad told the Dubai Airshow this week it will partner with Boeing to launch what it described as one of the world’s most fuel-efficient long-haul aircraft. (AP)
Updated 20 November 2019

Sales of grounded Boeing jets lift off at Dubai Airshow

  • Saudi Arabian budget airline Flynas confirms deal to buy ten long-range Airbus narrow-body planes

DUBAI: Boeing’s 737 MAX took center stage at the Dubai Airshow on Tuesday as airlines announced plans to order up to 50 of the jets worth $6 billion at list prices despite a global grounding in place since March.

Kazakhstan flag carrier Air Astana said it had signed a letter of intent to order 30 Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets for its Fly Arystana subsidiary.

Air Astana, which operates Airbus and Embraer jets in its main network, said it was confident in Boeing’s ability to resolve problems with the MAX.

Global regulators banned commercial flights of Boeing’s fastest-selling jet in March after two fatal accidents.

Plans for the jet’s return to commercial service have been pushed back to early 2020 as Boeing finalizes software and training revisions that need regulatory approval.

“We are making flying affordable for the people of Kazakhstan,” Air Astana Chief Planning Officer Alma Aliguzhinova said, adding that budget carrier Fly Arystana would start taking the jets in late 2021.

The airline plans to hold 15 aircraft directly and may finance the rest through a lease transaction, she said, adding that Air Astana would not change the composition of its main fleet.

Separately, another airline signed a firm order for 10 Boeing 737 MAX 7 and 10 Boeing MAX 10 jets, a person familiar with the matter said. The airline’s name was not disclosed.

Boeing has used the past two major industry events to try to secure market momentum for the grounded MAX, which is seen as key to the planemaker’s financial health over the coming decade.

A letter of intent between Boeing and British Airways owner IAG for 200 jets, which grabbed the spotlight at the Paris Airshow in June, has yet to be finalized as the European holding company discusses the fleet change with subsidiaries that use Airbus for medium-haul operations.

In other business coinciding with the largest Middle East air show on Tuesday, Saudi budget airline Flynas agreed to buy 10 long-range Airbus A321XLR jets.

The airline’s chief executive had said on Monday that Flynas was in talks to exercise purchasing options for some or all of 40 Airbus A320neo narrow-body jets.. Airbus unveiled a provisional order in Dubai for eight of its small A220 jets from Air Senegal. Britain’s easyJet exercised options for 12 more Airbus A320neo aircraft.

Also coinciding with the show, leasing giant GECAS was expected to confirm an order for 25 Airbus planes, including 12 A330neo jets powered by engines from Rolls-Royce, a competitor to GECAS parent company General Electric.

However, there were no immediate signs that Dubai’s Emirates was ready to finalize a provisional order for 40 Boeing 787 Dreamliners.


Vietnam’s young invest in ideas blooming in Ho Chi Minh City

Updated 4 min 43 sec ago

Vietnam’s young invest in ideas blooming in Ho Chi Minh City

  • The gold rush comes in spite of cumbersome regulations for foreigners

HO CHI MINH CITY: A tech-savvy population, a fast-growing economy, and the perks of being first in an emerging market — Vietnamese entrepreneur Le Thanh saw the potential in booming Ho Chi Minh City for his startup transforming coffee grounds into masks.

The 35-year-old chemistry graduate worked for two multinationals before stepping out on his own three years ago to launch ShoeX — a sustainable footwear company which nimbly pivoted to masks as the coronavirus pandemic struck. 

When he entered the workforce, Thanh was drawn to the higher salaries and no-nonsense working culture at foreign companies he assumed were a cut above local firms, tangled up in rules imposed by his country’s staid communist rulers.

“But now I see there are more openings in a place where things are a bit murky,” Thanh told AFP from his buzzing Ho Chi Minh City co-working space. He is not alone in believing Vietnam — and especially its southern commercial center — is poised to become an innovation hub thanks to its young, educated and digitally active population.

Vietnamese e-commerce and e-payment companies have been “flooded” with private equity in the past couple of years, said Eddie Thai, a Ho Chi Minh City-based partner at venture capital firm 500 Startups. Their rise has been stellar.

Vietnam-based startups made up 18 percent — or $741 million — of the capital invested in Southeast Asia in 2019, up from four percent in 2018, according to a report by Cento Ventures.

Although Indonesia remains the leader, the amount pumped into Vietnam startups pushed ahead of Singapore for the first time in 2019, the venture capital firm said.

The gold rush comes in spite of cumbersome regulations for foreigners, Thai told AFP, making it difficult to invest and repatriate capital.

Last year, popular e-wallet platform VNPay reportedly snagged the largest deal in Southeast Asia, attracting $300 million from Softbank’s Vision Fund and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC.

And although Thai said investment had paused due to the coronavirus pandemic, Vietnam is well-placed to bounce back.

Its economy unexpectedly grew in the second quarter and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts a 2.7 percent expansion for the year despite the global downturn.

The country also has a huge pool of software engineers who cost substantially less than their Indian or Chinese peers.

And unlike the tech talent in wealthy startup hubs such as San Francisco or London, they understand what consumers in the emerging world want, Thai says.