Airbus vs Qatar Heats up as UK Court Orders Airbus to Delay Cancellation of 50 A321neo Aircraft

Qatar Airways Airbus A350.
Photo: Harrison Rowe/AviationSource

LONDON – In the seemingly never-ending saga of the battle and dispute between Airbus and Qatar airways over the pain issues with the Airbus A350 aircraft, a new turn of events has unfolded after a UK court rules that Airbus should delay their decision to cancel a $6 billion jet order with Qatar for several weeks before any practical effects are made through this decision.

The news broke today following a report from Aljazeera news, which said that the ruling had come as the court battle between Airbus and Qatar continues to heat up. Qatar is currently looking to sue airbus for $600 Million following the faster than expected degradation of paint on its A350 aircraft, something which the middle eastern carrier claims is a risk to the safety of the aircraft.

Airbus however disagrees with this statement and said it has been working and speaking closely to other A350 operators around the world who are yet to make the same decision as Qatar and ground their A350 aircraft.

The dispute between the two companies heated up to higher levels in January when Airbus made the decision to cancel a 50 jet order for the Airbus A321neo, saying that the airlines decision to refuse to take the remaining A350 ordered aircraft had triggered a clause linking the two plane deals and would allow them to open up the slots to other airlines for additional orders.

Qatar airways have condemned the decision made by Airbus and in a quote from a hearing on Friday Qatar Airways lawyer Philip Shepherd said: “They took the risk and knew it would be absolutely incendiary. We have paid $330m for this (A321neo) contract so far and they knew it was a hand grenade being thrown into our bunker,”

Airbus Chief Executive Guillaume Faury said on Thursday it had been forced to cancel the A321neo order to “exercise our rights”. However, the UK court ruled that should Qatar win the court cases set for April 4 related to the cancellation of that order, Airbus would have to indeed meet and fulfill the order made by the airline.

This would certainly cause Airbus a lot of pain and frustration, as there would then be nothing stopping Qatar Airways from its self canceling the order of those aircraft, something which still would remain a possibility following the airline’s massive Boeing 737 MAX and 777X orders announced in January.

The main court case date revolving around the heart of the dispute the A350 is still set for April 26, which means that even if Airbus is able to provide an amicable solution to the paint issue over the coming months, this disagreement and argument is something which will continue well into the summer schedule service, no doubt causing Qatar airways more frustration which so many planes grounded.

Qatar Airways used the A350 as its backbone during the entire COVID-19 pandemic offering flights to get people home and operating more flights and services than any other airline on the planet, so while the paint and heat sync issues have been inconvenient, it is unlikely that we would see Qatar never utilize this aircraft again, as the launch customer of the A350-900XWB it has got a long and proud history with the aircraft which has served the airline faithfully over the years.

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