A British judge has ordered French planemaker Airbus to delay the cancellation of a multi-billion-dollar order for 50 A321neo aircraft with Doha-based Qatar Airways.
Airbus has revoked the $6 billion order in an ongoing and bitter dispute with Qatar Airways over paint quality defects that have affected some of the airframer’s larger A350 jets.
During an early technical hearing at London’s High Court on Friday, a judge told Airbus that it must delay any practical steps that would prevent Qatar Airways from receiving the new planes as originally planned.
The delay has been requested through April when the full court hearing is slated to take place. During the full trial, the High Court will determine whether Airbus was within its rights to cancel the order by invoking a cross-default clause in Qatar Airways’ contract for A350 planes.
Qatar Airways first sued Airbus for at least $600 million claiming that paint damage to at least 21 of its A350 planes was an airworthiness issue that had forced the airline to ground the planes until the ‘root cause’ has been established.
Airbus denies any suggestion the damage is a reason to ground the planes and claims to have worked with other A350 operators who have all come to the same conclusion. The manufacturer then cancelled a separate order for 50 A321neo’s when Qatar Airways refused to take delivery of two A350 planes which have been built for the airline.
Qatar Airways and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) fears Airbus is taking advantage of market forces for the incredibly popular A321neo jet as leverage against airlines.
Despite the ongoing court battle, Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury said on Thursday that the European airframer was still hoping to reach an “amicable solution” with Qatar Airways.
Faury told reports that the decision to cancel the A321neo order came only after “many” failed attempts to “find mutually beneficial solutions and we continue to hope for an amicable solution.”
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.