By Parag Deulgaonkar
Dubai Airports chief Griffiths says Gulf airlines need to take call on whether it is economical
The chief executive of Dubai Airports is hoping that the emirate will be one of the early adopters of XB-1, the supersonic jetliner.
The aircraft, which will halve the travel time from Dubai to London or Abu Dhabi to Sydney, is expected to begin commercial passenger operations in 2023.
Speaking to Arabian Business, after Boom Technology founder Blake Scholl's presentation on Tuesday evening, Paul Griffiths said: “I would like to see us being an early adopter of the technology.”
Asked if he thought UAE-based airlines would invest in the XB-1, Griffiths said: “It’s a great concept. It is a wonderful product, but they [airlines] will have to decide whether they think it is an economic or passenger winning formula.”
Speaking at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) last year about supersonic travel, Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed said: “I think what really put this business off was the fuel at the time and the size of the aircraft. It's up to the manufacturers to one day build an aircraft that is twice as fast as light.”
Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker, also speaking at last year’s ATM, said supersonic travel was “hugely viable”.
During his presentation, Scholl said the XB-1 will fly at 60,000 feet - nearly twice as high - as today’s jetliner aircraft.
“It is really cool because when you are that high you can actually see the curvature of the earth and sky is deeper blue. The other thing about that altitude is that you are above the normal weather,” he said.
At present, Boom has orders for 25 aircraft, from from Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and an unnamed European airline, with a total order value of $5 billion.