Emirates leads, as always

AS THE global commercial aviation industry passes through a grave crisis sparked by higher fuel costs and mounting losses, UAE's national carrier Emirates airline has demonstrated its determination to forge ahead with an aggressive expansion plan by placing a $12 billion new order for 60 Airbus planes.

The new order, which was placed close on the heels of the $60 billion collective aircraft orders snapped by UAE carriers at Farnborough Air Show, is a bold statement by the Dubai-based airline about its confidence in the future of global commercial aviation, where Dubai is poised to play a central role through a spate of ambitious aviation-related projects including the world's largest airport — Dubai World Central.

Emirates, one of the world's fastest growing airlines, with a fleet size of 117 aircraft, is well on track with its expansion across the globe when other carriers either scale down or wind up operations as the industry begins a tailspin under the impact of soaring fuel costs, typically the largest single cost item for an airline. So far this year, 25 airlines have gone out of business as the International Air Transport Association warns that the airline industry could face combined net loss of $6.1 billion in 2008 if the crude oil price stayed at $135 a barrel for the rest of the year.

Amid this gloomy scenario, the new order by Emirates — which is also the largest customer of the Superjumbo A380 — for more energy-efficient wide-body planes, is expected to revitalise the global commercial aviation sector as it did in the aftermath of 9/11, when it bucked the trend by placing huge aircraft orders.

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