Airbus terminates contract to deliver 50 A321neo aircraft to Qatar Airways

Airbus is turning up the heat in the latest chapter in its dispute with Qatar Airways over grounded A350 jets.

Bloomberg reports that Airbus announced on January 20, 2022 that it had terminated a separate contract to deliver 50 A321neo aircraft that the airline needs. The single-aisle model jets are in popular demand, with the earliest availability for the aircraft only in 2023. 

This move is not only expected to widen the rift between Airbus and Qatar Airways, but will also put pressure on the airline as Qatar prepares to host the World Cup soccer event in November 2022.

The long-running row between Airbus and Qatar Airways legally began in early December 2021, when Airbus decided to seek independent legal assessments over the airline’s grievances about its fleet of A350 aircraft. 

In a speaking engagement in December 2021, the airline’s head and CEO Akbar Al Bakr  said that Airbus needs to admit that it had a problem with flaws on the surface of its A350 jets and ruled out buying freighter planes from the European aircraft manufacturing company.

On December 20, 2021, Qatar Airways announced that it had started legal proceedings against Airbus in a UK court in order to resolve a dispute over the A350’s fuselage surface degradation.  

“We have sadly failed in all our attempts to reach a constructive solution with Airbus in relation to the accelerated surface degradation condition adversely impacting the Airbus A350 aircraft,” the Doha-based airline said in a statement back in December 2021. 

“Qatar Airways has therefore been left with no alternative but to seek a rapid resolution of this dispute via the courts.” 

On January 6, 2022, London High Court documents seen by Reuters showed that Qatar Airways is requesting the amount of $618 million from Airbus over the surface quality of the A350.

According to reports by Bloomberg, documents prepared by Airbus for a London court hearing on January 20, 2022 say that, “There is no reasonable or rational basis” for Qatari regulators to have grounded 21 of the A350s operated by the state-owned carrier. 

Airbus will contend that Qatar Airways “sought to engineer or has acquiesced” in the A350 groundings because it’s in the airline’s interest to keep its planes idle “given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic” on demand. 

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