New Boeing 777 proves big seller at Dubai Air Show

The order book of US aircraft giant Boeing Co was seen filling up faster than that of European rival Airbus on Sunday, the first day of the Dubai Air Show, with airlines in the Gulf placing a number of high-value plane orders.

BOEING 777Dubai-based Emirates airline placed an order for 150 of Boeing's new 777 mini-jumbos, in a $76 billion deal.

Other orders from Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Lufthansa for some 109 of the new 777s, previously codenamed 777X, brought its sales total to $95 billion. The new 777, a wide-bodied aircraft, is expected to be operational in 2020.

Emirates Airlines has also ordered 50 Airbus A380s, in a deal worth $23 billion. The airline is already the biggest customer of the A380 and the new deal will bring its total orders for the plane to 140.

Local rival Etihad Airways has also announced a firm order for 87 Airbus aircraft - some 50 A350 XWBs, 36 A320neo aircraft and one A330-200F as part of its fleet modernisation strategy.

The deal, valued at $19 billion, includes options for 30 more planes.

Boeing said its 777 mini-jumbo sales represented "the largest product launch in commercial jetliner history by dollar value".

"The response to the 777X has been astounding," Boeing chairman James McNerney said at the official launch of the new plane in Dubai.

The 777 will come in two models, one seating 350 passengers, and another seating 406.

Boeing's new aircraft is designed to compete with the largest version of Airbus's A350 in the mini-jumbo market.

European rival Airbus has launched a campaign for a minimum standard seat width of 18 inches on long trips, as it seeks to draw the focus of airlines to what it says will be the 777's narrower seats.

Meanwhile, Airbus will be looking to sell more of its A380 super-jumbo aircraft, the world's biggest passenger aircraft, which is facing a potential cut in production unless some more orders are secured.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has visited the air show site, with the UK along with France competing for a potential 60-plane fighter jet deal with the United Arab Emirates.

Cameron welcomed the Airbus orders from Emirates and Eithad Airways, as well as the news that Rolls-Royce had won a $5 billion order from Etihad Airways to supply Trent XWB engines for the 50 Airbus A350s.

The Etihad deal also included an order for 30 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, making the fast-growing carrier the largest single customer for the medium-body plane.