Airbus pulls plug on entire remaining Qatar Airways A350 deal

Qatar Airways Airbus A350 ©AirTeamImages

With Qatar Airways refusing to take delivery of any further Airbus A350s until the European planemaker makes good on what the Gulf carrier calls premature surface damage, Airbus has finally had enough of the situation and has revoked the existing order for what stood at 19 aircraft as at the end of June, according to REUTERS news agency. The book value of these aircraft stands at US$7 billion.

This contract revocation comes six months after Airbus revoked the contract for 50 of the smaller A321neo jets which Qatar Airways also had on order. That revocation was seen as a retaliatory move by Airbus as a consequence of Qatar Airways refusing to take any further deliveries of the A350. Airbus has refused to acknowledge Qatar Airways’ complaint, accusing the carrier of trying to delay delivery of the aircraft while the long-haul market struggles to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Airbus has agreed there are cosmetic problems with the jet, but that contrary to Qatar Airways’ claims, these problems have not affected the safety of the jet. The Gulf carrier grounded almost half its fleet of A350s after the Qatari regulator identified premature surface damage, for which the carrier is seeking US$1.4 billion in compensation. Part of the reason for refusing delivery was also because Qatar Airways was waiting for an explanation from Airbus over missing or damaged patches of anti-lightning mesh which had been exposed by peeling paint.

The dispute between the two companies may end up in a rare corporate trial in London next June, whereupon it will likely be decided whether this is a cosmetic issue, or as Qatar Airways claims, a design defect. (£1.00 = US$1.21 at time of publication).

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