An escalation between Qatar Airways and “Airbus” with the cancellation of...

In an unprecedented decision in the aviation industries, the European Airbus Group canceled an order for Qatar Airways that included 50 A321neo planes, in an escalation between the European Aerospace Industries Group and one of its biggest customers who criticized it for defects in the A350 planes.

According to Agence France-Presse, this decision is part of a dispute between the aircraft manufacturer and the airline, which has grounded some of its A350 planes due to the deterioration of the outer surfaces of the hulls of these planes, and has begun legal proceedings against Airbus in the British court.

The response of the European group was strong. An Airbus spokesman confirmed to Agence France-Presse information published by the financial news agency Bloomberg, saying, “We confirm that we have terminated a contract that includes fifty A321 aircraft with Qatar Airways, according to our right.”

In general, orders are usually canceled by client companies when they no longer have the means to finance the purchase or they no longer need the aircraft. According to the bid price that was last published by Airbus in 2018, which was not applied due to rebates, the value of this order was more than six billion dollars.

The dispute between the aircraft manufacturer and the airline dates back to last summer. At the beginning of August, Qatar Airways announced that it had received an order from the country’s regulator to ground 13 of its Airbus A350 aircraft due to the rapid deterioration of the fuselage surfaces.

Currently, 21 of these long-haul planes have been frozen, according to the airline, which has 53 A350s in its fleet. It was supposed to receive 23 other planes, but it refused to receive more of them since last summer.

As for Airbus, which admits that the paint has deteriorated, which could jeopardize the integrated metal grille designed to protect the aircraft from lightning strikes, it asserts that this has no consequences for safety in flight. The European Aviation Safety Agency confirmed that these defects do not involve any navigational risks.

defects in aircraft
This defect has been detected in some aircraft operated by other companies, but Qatar Airways is the only one that prevents it from flying, which leads to a huge loss in the profits of the company specializing in long-haul flights. The European group of aircraft manufacturers saw this as a “threat to international safety protocols” and said it was ready in December to resort to independent arbitration.

Airbus, which intends to “defend its position and reputation”, confirmed that it was a matter of “resolving the dispute that the two parties were unable to resolve during direct and open discussions,” as stated in a statement in an unusually sharp tone targeting one of the group’s most important customers and the second largest airline in the Middle East. Middle East after Emirates Airlines.

Qatar before the British court
Qatar Airways preferred to present the case to the British judiciary. During Thursday’s hearing before the High Court of Justice in London, each side presented its arguments. Qatar Airways has demanded $618 million in compensation and a fine of $4 million for each additional day of paralyzing its A350 aircraft, an informed source said.

The airline confirmed in a statement on Friday that the mentioned defects are not “superficial”, expressing its “deep regret” that “Airbus” apparently decided to “escalate” the dispute. Qatar Airways urged Airbus to carry out an analysis to determine the causes of the defects.

For its part, Airbus invoked a clause related to the failure to perform the contract regarding the refusal to take delivery of the additional A350 aircraft to justify the cancellation of the A321neo order. This single-aisle aircraft, which has no equivalent in capacity and flight distance to American competition Boeing, is at the heart of Airbus’ strategy and commercial success, as the “A321neo” alone in 2021 represented three-quarters of the orders submitted to the European group.

With orders covering about 3,400 A321 aircraft, Airbus has several years of production. A new hearing is scheduled for the week of April 26.

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