Airbus cancels Qatar’s order for 50 A321 aircraft

Airbus said yesterday that it has canceled a contract with Qatar Airways to purchase 50 A321neo aircraft the airline needs to open new routes, which could exacerbate a dispute with one of the airline’s largest customers over the larger A350 aircraft.

The move should widen the controversy that on Thursday came close to a rare confrontation in court, with a procedural hearing scheduled for April 26 in London to hear a lawsuit in which Qatar Airways claims more than $ 600 million in compensation from Airbus for over defects in the paint and surface of the aircraft An A350.

Sources familiar with the matter said Airbus revealed the cancellation of the contract for the A320neo aircraft in a preliminary document of pleadings presented at a hearing to determine the date of the hearing of the A350 dispute in a circuit of the Supreme Court in Great Britain Thursday. .

“We can confirm that we have already terminated the contract for 50 A321s with Qatar Airways, consistent with our rights,” said an Airbus spokesperson.

Qatar Airways should try to prevent the cancellation of the contract, after saying it intended to take in delivers the planes despite refusing to take more A350s until the surface corrosion controversy on those larger planes was resolved.

There were no immediate comments from the airline in about contract A321.

The order for the A321 comes from an agreement that was first signed nearly 10 years ago and was then valued at $ 4.6 billion at the manufacturer’s list price. It was later modified to replace ten A321s with a newer version.

Qatar Airways says the A321 will help it operate flights to new markets that currently have insufficient demand for larger aircraft but are beyond the distances covered by the smaller A320.

Contrary to the ban on flying

The two companies have been fighting for months over damage to the A350s, including paint defects, cracked window frames and corrosion of the lightning protection film.

Qatar Airways says the local regulator ordered it to ground 21 of its 53 A350s when problems began to emerge, sparking a bitter dispute with Airbus, which acknowledged technical problems but says there are no safety concerns. .

Qatar Airways is asking for $ 618 million in compensation for the 21 planes on the ground, as well as $ 4 million per day.

The airline is also asking British judges to order French Airbus not to attempt to deliver more planes until it has resolved what it describes as a design flaw.

Airbus said it will “totally deny” the airline’s allegations in court, accusing her of trying to misrepresent the problems as security related.

He also indicated that he would argue that the state-owned company influenced the regulatory body to stop flights to get compensation, while Qatar Airways is putting in doubt the design and accuses Airbus of not providing studies on the matter, according to sources.

The airline says the local regulator is independent in making safety decisions and cannot assess the airworthiness of damaged aircraft without a deeper analysis by Airbus.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency said it has not encountered any safety issues with the A350s examined so far.

Qatar is the only country so far that has grounded some of those planes.

But a Reuters investigation in November revealed that at least five other airlines had found defects in the surface or paint of aircraft since 2016, prompting Airbus to create an internal working group before Qatar spat and explore a new one. design lightning-proof for future A350s.

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