In an extraordinary turn of events, the ongoing conflict between Qatar Airways and Airbus has led to the cancellation of the former’s remaining unfulfilled order.
After upping the stakes in a legal and commercial disagreement with the airline, Airbus announced the cancellation. “Airbus confirms that it has removed 19 Qatar Airways A350s from the backlog,” a representative told Reuters.
Qatar Airways made no immediate comments on the cancellation. There are now 34 A350-900s and 19 A350-100s flying for the Middle Eastern airline. In 2015, Qatar Airways was the first carrier to fly the newest widebody aircraft from Airbus.
Almost half of Qatar’s A350 fleet was grounded due to premature surface damage last year, and the airline sued Airbus for at least $1.4 billion.
The Gulf carrier filed a lawsuit after refusing to accept more A350s and also released a scathing video montage of at least three different airframes with deteriorated paintwork. This caused Airbus also to cancel Qatar’s contract for 50 A321neo aircraft.
By taking the dispute to European courts, Qatar Airways hoped to win support from the local justice system, forcing Airbus to resume the delivery of the A321neos order and provide an explanation for the missing anti-lightning mesh patches that were exposed by the A350s’ peeling paint.
Nevertheless, a London court decided in April that Airbus was not required to keep making the aircraft for the airline. The court agreed with Airbus that a “cross default” clause connecting the two contracts (for the A350 and the A321neo) allowed the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to cancel one deal if the other was not upheld.
Between January and August, Airbus said it had booked orders for 843 jets, or a net total of 637 following cancellations, including customary order cancellations by clients and the aircraft Airbus withheld from Qatar. Over the same span, it delivered 382 planes, or a net total of 380 after subtracting two A350s built for Aeroflot, but was unable to deliver them because of sanctions.
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