Dubai Airshow 2021 marks major turning point in recovery and growth of international aviation and aerospace industries

Published: Thursday, December 16, 2021

After a year of postponement, Dubai Airshow returned this year as the largest aviation and aerospace global event to be held since the onset of the pandemic, more powerful, dynamic and bigger than ever with over 104,000 attendees and an incredible USD78 billion worth of deals made during the five-day event (14-18 November 2021).

Organizers said this was the event’s biggest edition since its launch in 1989, marking a turning point in the international aviation and aerospace’s industries recovery and growth efforts.

The mega event welcomed more than 104,000 attendees and witnessed a 50% increase in trade visitors which included global senior executives from 148 countries. It was also a significant milestone for the defence and space sectors which saw a range of deals and agreements declared.

Some of the notable deals which took place during the event included Airbus which announced orders and commitments totaling 408 aircraft (269 firm orders and 139 commitments). The agreements covered the full range of commercial aircraft families, including a first commitment for the A350F freighter derivative. Airbus launched its latest global market forecast outlining progressively shifting demand from fleet growth to accelerated retirement of older, less fuel-efficient aircraft resulting in a need for some 39,000 new-build passenger and freighter aircraft. Of these,15,250 aircraft (around 40%) are for replacements.

On the opening day of the show alone, Indigo Partners portfolio airlines placed a firm order for 255 A321neo Family aircraft, including 29 XLR. This included Wizz Air ordering 102 aircraft (75 A321neo + 27 A321XLR); Frontier 91 aircraft (A321neo); Volaris 39 aircraft (A321neo) and JetSMART 23 aircraft (21 A321neo + 2 A321XLR).

Boeing announced an order of 72 of its 737 Max from new Indian airline Akasa Air. It also announced orders for 11 of its 737-800BCF cargo planes from aircraft leasing company Icelease, nine converted 767-300BCF freighters from DHL, and orders for two of its long-range 777F freighters from Emirates SkyCargo. Boeing received four orders of passenger planes and freighters from Air Tanzania and three of its widebody 777-300 passenger jets from UAE-based aviation services provider Sky One FZE.

The UAE’s Ministry of Defence signed AED 22.5 billion worth of contracts with European, American and Asian contractors and suppliers at the Airshow. The UAE Air Force and Air Defence (Afad) on the first day awarded a contract worth Dh11 billion to Abu Dhabi-based advanced technology firm Edge Group’s subsidiary GAL for the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), and specialised support services for the UAE Airforce and Air Defence.

Tawazun Economic Council (Tawazun) and Airbus signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) under which the latter will establish a wholly-owned facility in Abu Dhabi. The formation of the subsidiary is part of Tawazun’s efforts to attract and promote long-term partnerships with major companies in the defence, aviation and aerospace sector. Tawazun also signed a Euro 216.9 million deal with Aeroter to purchase 100 VRT500 helicopters.

MBRSC signs MoU with Volga-Dnepr Group to provide logistics services, air cargo solutions for UAE satellite program

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) has signed a MoU with Volga-Dnepr Group, a Russian airline holding company, to provide logistics services and air cargo solutions for the UAE satellite programme during the five-day Dubai Airshow.

Headquartered in Moscow, Volga-Dnepr is a world leader in the global market for the movement of oversize, unique and heavy air cargo. Its core business activities are charter cargo operations using Antonov An-124 and IL-76TD-90VD heavy transporters and scheduled cargo operations using Boeing 747 and Boeing 737 freighters.

The deal was signed by Salem AlMarri, Deputy Director General, MBRSC and Artemiy Ivanovskiy, General Manager, Volga-Dnepr Group, Dubai Office in the presence of Yousuf Hamad AlShaibani, Director General, MBRSC at the Dubai Airshow 2021.

Founded in 2006, MBRSC is home to the UAE National Space Program. The Centre builds and operates earth observation satellites, offering imaging and data analysis services.

Dubai Airshow and the UAE Space Agency signed a MoU on the second day of the event. The two parties will collaborate to further position Dubai Airshow as a key platform for companies and investors in the space sector.

The partnership will support organizations looking to establish a presence at future editions of the event and will enable space companies to benefit from the participation, engagements, networking and agreements created at Dubai Airshow. The agreement will deliver an increased focus on the space industry for future editions of the event highlighting the continued growth and development of the international space sector.

A gathering of force

Timothy Hawes, Managing Director at Tarsus Middle East, organisers of Dubai Airshow 2021 said: “It has been a truly incredible Dubai Airshow. The event has been a real testament to the resilience, robustness and adaptability of the aviation and aerospace industries to come back with such strength after the pandemic. We have seen an industry transition with significant levels of innovation, technological advancement and digital transformation right across the show with many exhibitors displaying brand new solutions.

“There have also been greater commitments towards sustainability and decarbonisation, which is of critical importance across the globe. The attendance levels of global senior executives from across the industries has also never been higher than this year.

“We thank the UAE leadership for their continuous support, trust and guidance in helping make this the biggest ever event of its kind. USD 78 billion worth of deals truly shows that the industry has an exciting and prosperous future with partnerships and collaboration at its heart. Dubai Airshow is today recognized as a world-class platform that shapes the future of the aerospace sector and we thank everyone involved for helping to make the 2021 edition a truly pivotal moment and a resounding success.”

The Dubai Airshow is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The next edition will take place in 2023 at Dubai World Central (DWC), Al Maktoum airport.


  • Over USD 78 billion worth of deals secured or announced
  • 387 civil and military delegations attended the event
  • 148 countries were represented during the Airshow
  • 371 new exhibitors and more than 80 start-ups were present
  • 175 aircraft were on display including a number of international debuts
  • Airlines operating in the Middle East region will require 3,020 new passenger and freight aircraft deliveries by 2040, according to the 2021 Airbus Global Market Forecast (GMF)