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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 November 2005, 13:17 GMT
Boeing inks China and Dubai deals
UAE Defence Minister and Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashed al-Maktum (lower right) and colleagues descend from a Boeing 777 at the start of the Dubai Air Show
The Emirates deal got the Dubai Air Show off to a flying start
Boeing has signed two massive deals to supply aircraft to Chinese firms and to Dubai's Emirates Airlines.

China is buying seventy Boeing 737 aircraft - a $4bn (2.32bn) deal that is said to be the largest in Chinese aviation history.

And, as the Dubai Air Show opened on Sunday, Emirates ordered forty-two 777 jets in a deal worth $9.7bn (5.64bn).

The deal marks a major boost for Boeing in the Middle East, where it is competing fiercely with Airbus.

Boeing's arch-rival responded with the signing of a $2.9bn contract with Kuwaiti leasing firm Alafco for 12 A350 aircraft.

Kuwaiti no-frills carrier Jazeera Airways also announced it had signed up to buy six Airbus A320s.

Booming market

Airbus and Boeing have been battling it out to win orders in the Middle East, a fast-growing aviation market relatively unchallenged by rocketing fuel prices and terror threats.

Airline Emirates had already purchased 45 Airbus superjumbo A380 aircraft - the single largest customer for the new jet, which put in an appearance at the air show on Saturday.

The airline hopes to make the Gulf a major regional transport hub as it positions itself as a leading carrier on routes between Europe and Asia.

China's deal with Boeing was hailed as a promising sign for future co-operation between China and the US by China's official news agency Xinhua.

The agreement was signed as President George W Bush visited Beijing.

China is forecast to need more than 3,000 new aircraft over the next 20 years.

Earlier this year, Boeing announced it was selling 60 of its 787 "Dreamliner" jets to China for $7.2bn.

At the moment Boeing planes make up two-thirds of the country's present fleet, while rival Airbus holds a 28% share.

China is expected to become the world's second-biggest aviation market over the next 20 years.

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