Boeing delivers first 777 plane as Iraq rebuilds

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Boeing said on Saturday it has delivered a 777-200LR to Iraq, marking the beginning of Boeing’s renewed partnership with the Middle Eastern country.

Iraq also has 30 Next-Generation 737-800s on order, as well as 10 787 Dreamliners as it looks to rebuild its aviation industry after years in the doldrums due to conflict.

The airplane touched down at Baghdad International Airport on Saturday and was welcomed by senior government leaders including Hadi al-Ameri, Iraqi Minister for Transportation as well as Steve Beecroft, American ambassador to Iraq.

"We are re-building our country's aviation sector and the purchase of the Boeing 777-200LR will help us begin developing the long-haul market," said Al Ameri.

Iraq also has 30 Next-Generation 737-800s on order, the first of which will be delivered mid-2013, as well as 10 787 Dreamliners.

"We are proud to be part of the new beginnings of the Iraqi aviation sector and of the trust that the Republic of Iraq has placed in Boeing products," said Marty Bentrott, vice president for Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Middle East, Russia, Central Asia.

"We look forward to growing and strengthening our partnership with the Republic of Iraq."

Earlier this month, the US-based plane maker forecast that the Middle East will require 2,370 new aircraft, worth an estimated $470bn, over a 20-year period from 2012 to 2031.

While 730 airplanes (31 percent) will replace current fleet assets, 69 percent of the demand is expected to be driven by the rapid growth of air travel in the region.

According to the Boeing Current Market Outlook (CMO), long-range, twin-aisle airplanes - such as the Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliner - will dominate the Middle East's order books, reflecting the global network priorities of the region's leading carriers, such as Qatar Airways.

Significantly, airlines in the Middle East currently have a backlog of 882 airplanes, 62 percent of which are long-haul, twin-aisle and large aircraft.

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