Airbus has revoked the contract to deliver a fourth A350 aircraft to Qatar Airways, according to a report from Reuters.

This is the latest move in the long-running dispute between Airbus and Qatar Airways over the A350 aircraft. The gulf carrier claims that the surface erosion on A350 jets posed a safety concern, while the European aircraft manufacturer maintains that the aircraft are safe.

Airbus and Qatar Airways are due to meet in a London court on July 7, 2022 for the latest in a series of procedural hearings prior to a full trial tentatively scheduled for the summer of 2023.

How it started

In late 2021, Qatar Airways sued Airbus over fuselage surface deterioration on its A350s, seeking more than $600 million in compensation.

In a counter move, Airbus attempted to terminate a separate contract to deliver 50 A321neo aircraft that Qatar Airways had on order. 

On April 26, 2022, the judge ruled in favor of Airbus, authorizing the planemaker not to fulfill its contractual obligation to deliver a different order of A321neo jets to the airline. Airbus was also allowed to sell the A350s rejected by Qatar Airways after the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) established that they were safe to operate.

In mid-June 2022, the EASA said it had found no evidence that paint or surface erosion on the A350 jets posed a safety concern. However, it also acknowledged that the aircraft has quality flaws seen in several other airlines. 

2023 trial

On May 26, 2022, The High Court in London ruled that the dispute will be brought to trial in summer 2023 under an expedited process.   

Both Qatar Airways and Airbus welcomed the legal process, though Qatar Airways seemed to hope that the two parties could reach a settlement. 

“Every partnership has disputes and I just hope that this dispute can be resolved out of court,” Qatar Airways COO Akbar al-Baker said at a press conference in Doha on May 26, 2022. 

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Both Qatar Airways and Airbus hope to settle the A350 dispute out of court, as the judge scheduled a three-month trial in mid-2023,