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It’s good to be a sheikh in Dubai

It’s good to be a sheikh in Dubai

I liked this straight talk from Boeing spokesman Charlie Miller, referring to complaints that Dubai’s Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum was able to jump ahead of other customers waiting to buy jumbo jets:

A lot depends on who the customer is," said Charlie Miller, a Boeing spokesman. "Clearly, if you are Emirates [the international airline of the United Arab Emirates], you deal with them differently," he said.

Boeing has a backlog of 3,600 planes, but the sheikh needs his 54 jets in time for the 2009 launch of FlyDubai, his new low-fare airline.

I have to wonder, though, just why anyone would want to be in the airline business right now. Virgin‘s Richard Branson is predicting "spectacular casualties" in the industry. Why not just scoop up an American carrier when it inevitably goes under, or get into, say, the potash mining business instead?