The number of grounded A350s has reached 23.
Airbus has cancelled Qatar Airways’ contract of a third A350 as the airline continued to reject deliveries amid an ongoing legal dispute over surface damage on the long-haul jets, according to Reuters.
The national carrier has since prevented a number of jets from flying and has recently, as the new filing reveals, further grounded an A350, reaching 23 in total. This has rocketed the value of compensation sought by the Gulf carrier to approximately $1 billion up, from the previous $700 million amount, sources familiar with the matter briefed, Reuters.
Described as an “exceptionally rare” public conflict in the aviation industry, the ordeal ignited in late 2020 when Qatar Airways discovered paint erosion on 21 aircrafts as well as deterioration in the anti-lightning protection on long-haul jets, which Airbus insists do not pose hazard risk.
With Qatar Airways, backed by its regulator, further grounding these jets, the planemaker has rejected safety concerns and responded to the Gulf state’s A350s delivery turndown until the issue is settled by “revoking deals for undelivered A350s, one by one, and axing a separate contract for A321neos,” Reuters said.
A final hearing to cancel the A321neo order will take place later this year, however it is temporarily on hold. On Thursday, the carrier will request a United Kingdom judge to further “extend” the temporary decision to ‘freeze’ that decision.
In February, Qatar Airways asked a UK court to restore their order for 50 Airbus A321neo passenger planes or grant the airline “unquantified damages” over the plane maker’s decision to revoke the order.
It also requested the court to order Airbus not to resell the A321neo planes to other interested airlines.
Airbus and its A350 dilemma
Meanwhile, Airbus is looking to potentially delay its A350s widebody jets production project as sanctions on Russia and the legal disagreement with Qatar Airways continues to exhaust the outlook for deliveries, as per, Bloomberg reported, citing those familiar with the matter.
The target of building six new A350s each month by early 2023, which had been recently vocalised in February, is now being weighed to take course at the end of next year. However, the plan has yet to be finalised.
Sanctions on Russia bar the Toulouse, a France-based manufacturer, from delivering A350s to its Russian customer, Aeroflot PJSC, which in turn took a hit at demands for Airbus jets. The legal fight with the Qatari airline, on the other hand, has given rise to doubts over further deliveries to Qatar Airways.
The A350 production increase could still take place early next year, should either of the two cases calm, sourced told Bloomberg.