By refusing to deliver the remaining 19 A350s, Airbus severed all dealings with Qatar Airways

With the cancellation of the delivery of 19 A350 aircraft to Qatar Airways this Wednesday, August 3, 2022, manufacturer Airbus is completely terminating its contract with Qatar Airways, having already canceled an order for 50 A321s Plane on January 21, 2022.

The trade dispute between the aircraft manufacturer and the carrier began on August 6, 2021, when the Qatari company decided to sell part of its fleet of A350 jumbo jets, first 13, then 21 of 53 it owns, due to problems with peeling paint to leave on the ground on the hulls.

An unprecedented conflict in the world of aviation

The dispute, both about the amount of damage and the amount of compensation, quickly degenerated into an open legal dispute with Airbus. This new decision by the aircraft manufacturer completes the measures already taken to end this dispute, unprecedented in the aviation world.

While it is possible for an airline not to purchase aircraft already on order, whether due to a lack of funding or an economic turnaround, it is unusual for a manufacturer to refuse to deliver aircraft to a solvent airline.

battle of the titans

The two parties seem irreconcilable: Qatar Airways, with the support of its national civil aviation authority, ensures that the deterioration of the fuselages endangers flight safety. Airbus, supported by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) – which sees no safety problem in the aircraft it inspects – recognizes the problem of surface degradation (due to differences in the elasticity of materials with temperature changes, paint is less elastic than metal support), but assures that the problem is only a cosmetic problem and therefore refutes this justification for the immobilisation of equipment from Qatar.

As a reminder, Qatar is currently the only country in the world to have immobilized A350s for this reason.

But Qatar Airways has taken legal action, demanding $200,000 in compensation per aircraft per day of grounding, ie more than $1.4 billion to date… Airbus has done the same, arguing that these allegations seriously damage its industrial reputation, Qatar Airways don’t hesitate to order from Boeing in the meantime, just to rub salt in the wounds.

Since then, the two titans of aviation have been waging a war whose intensity oscillates, like on a roller coaster, between periods of calm, in which the two protagonists say they are looking for an amicable solution, and renewed tensions, with new media clashes and new legal steps. Qatar Airways has already lost two battles in this seemingly never-ending legal battle, which doesn’t seem to dampen its thirst for revenge.

No comment was initially available from Airbus or Qatar Airways.