Qatar Airways is seeking a request against Airbus to stop the aircraft manufacturer from canceling its A321neo order.
The dispute between Qatar Airways and Airbus continues to bubble away with the Doha-based airline in court on Friday trying to stop Airbus from canceling an order for A321neo planes.
Before this month, Airbus canceled an order for 50 A321neos and two A350-1000s after Qatar Airways sued the plane manufacturer and refused to take further delivery of completed A350s.
Qatar Airways asked a London court
Now Reuters is reporting that Qatar Airways requested a London court on Friday for an injunction to prevent Airbus from canceling the A321neo order. Qatar Airways was expecting six A321neos a year from next February. Qatar’s lawyer, Philip Shepherd, informed the court the revocation was “a hand grenade thrown in our bunker,” and told the decision to do so was misguided and illegal.
The poor blood between Qatar and Airbus stems around to a problem over blistered paint and degradation to anti-lightning protection on Qatar’s existing A350s. Qatar says the issue has forced the grounding of 21 planes.
Airbus denies there is a security problem. The airline went on to sue Airbus for US$600 million plus $4 million a day while it waits for a formal analysis of the situation. Airbus is reportedly preparing a counter-claim again Qatar over the A350 matter.
“They took the risk and knew it would be incendiary. We have paid $330 million for this A321neo contract so far,” Mr. Shepherd told the court. He told canceling the A321neos was a tactical move designed to put pressure on Qatar over the A350 dispute.
why Airbus decided to cancel the A321neo order
Some observers have asked why Airbus decided to cancel the A321neo order in its entirety while only canceling two of the A350s. Qatar Airways initially ordered 42 A350-1000s of which 19 have been given.
Take off the two canceled planes and 21 A350-1000s remain due. However, the A350 is a slow broker at Airbus whereas the A321neo sells like hotcakes.
At a current Airbus media conference, Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury denied self-interest was at play and that the manufacturer canceled the A321neo knowing it could easily resell the planes but only trimmed the A350 order knowing the resale process would be a much harder duty.
“It’s not self-serving,” Mr. Faury told. “It comes from a contractual situation with Qatar Airways. We are now in a legal dispute, and we have to take steps that are connected to that specific case. It’s not anything else.”
Airbus says reinstating Qatar’s A321neo order would cause problems for other customers
While acknowledging other airlines had blistered paint and degradation issues with their A350s, no airline other than Qatar Airways was viewing it as a safety issue. Mr. Faury also noted EASA was not considering the issue as a safety issue.
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Airbus says when Qatar stopped paying for the remaining A350s per the original contract, they breached that deal and triggered a clause in the A321neo contract permitting it to cancel.
On Friday, Airbus informed the court they’d removed Qatar’s A321neo order from its production schedule, and reinstating it would cause significant delays to other customers. As of January 31, Airbus had undelivered orders for 3,359 A321neos. Just 103 A350-1000s are undelivered. Qatar blamed Airbus for a “campaign of terminations and disruptive manners.”
A hearing on Qatar’s request for an injunction is set to start in London on April 4. The ongoing A350 dispute is due back in court on April 26.
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Source: Simple Flying