Emirates Airlines buying piece of the sky

Emirati men watch an Airbus A380 at the 2007 Dubai Airshow.

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... (Photo credit should read KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images)

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KAI RYSSDAL: If you're wondering what oil exporters might be doing with all that money, look up. Airlines from the Persian Gulf states have announced $82 billion in new plane purchases. That's a bonanza for Boeing and Airbus. And one purchase in particular caught the imagination by an airline you've probably never heard of.

Marketplace's Dan Grech reports.


DAN GRECH: Emirates Airlines is buying 93 planes from Boeing and Airbus. Price tag: $23.4 billion. That's one of the largest jet orders ever.

DAVID FIELD: Emirates is saying: We may be young, we may not be known everywhere around the world, but we will be soon.

David Field is with Airline Business, a trade magazine. The oil-rich United Arab Emirates launched Emirates Airlines in 1985 with two planes. Since then, the airline has grown by 20 percent annually and made a profit every year for two straight decades. With its latest purchase, it's nearly doubling its fleet. David Field.

FIELD: They depend not on people filling the backs of airplanes, but on people paying the 6, 8, 10, 12-thousand-dollar round trip fares to fly in the private bedrooms, lie-flat seats, huge amounts of personal space.

The Middle East is poised to become the new hub for global air travel. Dubai, where Emirates is based, is building one of the biggest airports in the world, capable of handling 120 million passengers a year. The Emirates order is a boon for Airbus. It includes 70 A-350s. Airline expert Daryl Jenkins.

DARYL JENKINS: Oh this is a very big deal for Airbus. Boeing has just romped all over them with the 787, which is one of the great planes ever. The 350's been a troubled plane from the beginning, and now I guess it makes it all worth while to the Airbus people.

Both Boeing and Airbus are now expecting to set a sales record this year.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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