The row between Airbus and Qatar Airways seems to be taking off again. This time Airbus has reportedly cancelled a fourth A350 jet due to Qatar Airways. 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.
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. The dispute is now before the UK courts with Qatar Airways suing Airbus for US$1 billion in damages and Airbus countersuing for damages. 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. 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.
Why it matters
Industry insiders are worried that this case could set a precedent whereby the manufacturers further their grip on the airline industry. Officials worry the A321neo case may set a worrying precedent, allowing disputes to ricochet from one contract to another, tightening the grip of aircraft makers Airbus and its US rival Boeing.