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Should U.S. Airlines Cozy Up to Big-Spending Mideast Carriers?

Entertainment screens on a Qatar Airways Ltd. Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft at the 13th Dubai Airshow in Dubai on Nov. 18
Entertainment screens on a Qatar Airways Ltd. Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft at the 13th Dubai Airshow in Dubai on Nov. 18Photograph by Duncan Chard/Bloomberg

The record-breaking haul in new orders at this week’s Dubai Air Show is great news for Boeing and Airbus—but it’s likely to rekindle complaints among U.S. and European airlines that are being eclipsed by fast-growing Middle Eastern carriers.

Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar, the region’s top three airlines, ordered hundreds of jets worth more than $150 billion as the Dubai show opened on Nov. 17. They need more planes: Passenger traffic at Persian Gulf airports is growing 10 percent annually, about twice the rate at airports worldwide. “The Gulf airlines are growing as fast as any airlines in history,” the Sydney-based CAPA Centre for Aviation says in its annual review of the industry.