Spectacular decision in the aeronautics industry: Airbus canceled, Friday, January 21, an order of several billion dollars from Qatar Airways. “We confirm that we have terminated the contract for 50 A321s with Qatar Airways, in accordance with our law”, said an Airbus spokesperson, confirming information from Bloomberg.
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Generally, order cancellations are made by customer companies when they no longer have the means to finance the purchase or no longer need the aircraft. At the list price, last published by Airbus in 2018 and almost never applied due to discounts, the value of this order amounted to more than six billion dollars.
More than 20 Airbus A350s currently grounded
The acrimony between the aircraft manufacturer and the company dates back to last summer. At the beginning of August, Qatar Airways announced that it had received an order from its country’s regulator to ground thirteen of its Airbus A350s due to the rapid deterioration of the fuselage surfaces.
Currently, 21 of these long-haul aircraft are immobilized, according to the company, whose fleet has 53 A350s. She still has to receive 23 copies and has refused several deliveries since last summer. For Airbus, which recognizes a degradation of the paint that could expose an integrated metal net – intended to protect the plane in the event of a lightning strike on its fuselage made of composite materials –, this situation has no consequences on safety in flight. The European Aviation Safety Agency, EASA, confirmed that these degradations did not entail any airworthiness risks.
A “threat to international security protocols”
If this defect has been observed on certain aircraft from other companies, Qatar Airways is the only one to ban them from flying, causing a significant loss of earnings for this specialist in long-haul flights. Denouncing a “threat to international security protocols” airline, the European aircraft manufacturer said it was ready in December to resort to independent arbitration.
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This was, according to Airbus, which intends “defend his position and his reputation”, of “resolve the dispute, which the two parties were unable to do during direct and open discussions”, he said in an unusually firm statement targeting one of his big customers, the second largest company in the Middle East after Emirates.
Qatar Airways preferred to take the case to the British courts. During a hearing on Thursday before the High Court of Justice in London, each party presented its elements. A new hearing is scheduled for the week of April 26.