Airbus revokes the delivery of another Qatar Airways A350

Europe’s Airbus has raised the stakes in a dispute with Qatar Airways over damage to the painted surface of long-haul A350 jets by revoking the contract for a fourth airplane, three people familiar with the matter said.

The two companies are locked in a dispute over the impact of surface scars on the jets, with Airbus insisting the aircraft are safe and the Gulf carrier claiming there are unanswered questions over airworthiness and refusing to take deliveries.

ALSO READ – UK court denies compensation to Qatar Airways for cancelled A321neos order by Airbus

Airbus revokes the delivery of another Qatar Airways A350

In May, a British judge rejected a bid by Qatar Airways to force Airbus to stop formally trying to deliver more A350s to the carrier, the aircraft’s largest customer.

The procedural ruling means Airbus is free to attempt to trigger payment clauses as more planes are built. It can also try to sell A350s that Qatar has rejected to carriers such as Air India, which industry sources say could step in as a buyer.

ALSO READ – Airbus cancels more A350 orders of Qatar Airways

The fourth A350 was cancelled in late June and is expected to be reflected in the first-half Airbus data due out on Friday, July 8. A fifth aircraft is due to reach the same stage in the pipeline by end-July, followed by a sixth later this year.

The fourth A350 was cancelled in late June and is expected to be reflected in the first-half Airbus data due out on Friday, July 8

Qatar Airways claims Airbus is wrongly trying to offer new jets for delivery, while Airbus claims the airline has broken its contract by refusing to take more A350s and is revoking orders for undelivered aircraft one by one, as they are built.

The two sides are due to meet in a London court on Thursday, July 7 in the latest of a series of procedural hearings ahead of a full trial tentatively scheduled for June next year barring an out-of-court settlement, which sources say so far appears remote.

Qatar Airways has grounded some two dozen A350s amid safety concerns stemming from flaws in the protective painted surface of the planes and is refusing to take delivery of further A350s due until the matter is resolved.

A fifth aircraft is due to reach the same stage in the pipeline by end-July, followed by a sixth later this year.

ALSO READ – Qatar Airways accuses Airbus of acting like a “bully” over ‘peeling paint’; files USD 1 billion lawsuit

The dispute is now before the UK courts. Qatar Airways is suing Airbus for USD 1 billion in damages. Airbus has been countersued for damages.

ALSO READ – Qatar Airways prepared to take the Airbus legal dispute to trial

According to Airbus delivery data, Qatar Airways has 53 A350 aircraft in its fleet, including 34 A350-900s and 19 A350-1000s. As of May 31, a further 19 A350-1000s remained undelivered.

Earlier this year, Airbus cancelled orders from Qatar Airways for 50 A321 jets with over USD 6 billion because of the A350 dispute.

Qatar Airways is a substantial Airbus customer, with 143 aircraft from the plane builder in its fleet. Earlier this year, Airbus cancelled orders from Qatar Airways for 50 A321 jets with over USD 6 billion because of the A350 dispute.

ALSO READ – Airbus responds to Qatar Airways’s A350 dispute by cancelling A321 Order

Other A350 operators have acknowledged the problem but continue to fly the affected planes. Airbus and European aviation regulators say the aircraft is safe to fly. So far, things haven’t really gone Qatar Airways’ way in court regarding this matter. Airbus also says it would prefer to settle the dispute out of court.

(With Inputs from Reuters)

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