Airbus cancels major order from Qatar Airways – Economy

Usually it goes like this: a customer can no longer afford an aircraft and cancels the order if the contract with the manufacturer allows it. This is conceivable if the construction of the machine is massively delayed, or if it is somehow in the manufacturer’s interest to reallocate orders. At Airbus, leasing companies and airlines canceled a total of 264 machines in 2021, a particularly high number due to Corona, but not a big drama given the order backlog of more than 7,000 machines.

In the relationship between Airbus and Qatar Airways, however, nothing is normal at the moment. And so the aircraft manufacturer has now publicly confirmed what it had told one of its once most important customers a few days ago: it canceled an order for 50 narrow-body aircraft of the type A321neo, according to List, a transaction with a volume of four to five billion dollars. A process that is unusual in every respect and actually unique. Otherwise, manufacturers only take orders from their inventory if the customer is unable to pay due to financial difficulties. This cannot be the case with the state airline of the Emirate of Qatar.

Rather, the move is the latest twist in a public conflict involving claims for damages now totaling around $700 million that the airline is demanding. The focus is not on the 50 A321neo – they have now become collateral damage – but long-haul jets of the type A350. Qatar Airways had noticed paintwork damage and surface defects on some, then more and more aircraft over the course of 2020. The Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) has now grounded 21 of the aircraft until the cause of the defects has been clarified and it is also guaranteed that there is no safety risk.

Other airlines have also found such defects in their machines, but not as serious as Qatar Airways. Airbus says the paint and the carbon fiber fuselage expand at different rates, causing the paint to crack over time. At Qatar Airways, the temperature differences are particularly large in the hot summers on the Persian Gulf. There is no safety risk, an assessment that the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) also officially shares.

A lawsuit has been pending in London since December

Qatar Airways filed a lawsuit against Airbus in December to assert what it considers to be justified claims for damages before a court in London. The airline also refused two more to be delivered A350 to take and pay. In total, the airline has ordered 23 of the long-haul jets, all of which it is supposed to take over by 2026. The statements before the court show that the airline has apparently also suspended the usual advance payments that are due before delivery. Airbus has presumably with the cancellation of the A321neo responded – however, none of the parties publicly commented on this aspect.

Qatar Airways has had to reschedule the dispute significantly, particularly in preparation for the FIFA World Cup, which is due to start in the emirate in November. The airline even has some of its actually decommissioned ones A380 reactivated to have enough capacity.

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