Exclusive: Airbus axes remaining A350 jet deal with Qatar - sources

Exclusive: Airbus axes remaining A350 jet deal with Qatar – sources

PARIS, Aug 3 (Reuters) – Airbus (AIR.PA) has revoked its entire pending order from Qatar Airways for A350 jets, cutting all new airliner business with the Gulf carrier in a dramatic new twist to a dispute. clouding preparations for the World Cup, two industry sources said.

No comment was immediately available from Airbus or Qatar Airways.

The two aviation titans have been waging a rare public battle for months over the damaged condition of more than 20 long-haul planes that the airline says could pose a risk to passengers and which Airbus says are completely safe.

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Qatar Airways, which was the first airline to introduce the intercontinental airliner to the skies in 2015, is suing Airbus for at least $1.4 billion after almost half of its A350 fleet was grounded by the Qatari regulator for premature surface damage.

He has refused to take any more A350s until he receives a more detailed explanation of the damaged or missing patches of lightning mesh exposed by peeling paint. read more

Backed by European regulators, Airbus acknowledged quality problems with the planes but denied any safety risk from gaps in the protective underlayer, saying there is broad support.

So far, the dispute has had a gradual effect on the order book for Europe’s largest twin-engine plane, with first Airbus and then Qatar Airways canceling some individual planes.

Now, however, Airbus has told the airline it will remove the rest of the A350 deal from its books, the sources said, asking not to be identified as the discussions remain confidential. read more

At the end of June, the European planemaker had outstanding orders from Qatar Airways for 19 of the largest version of the plane, the 350-passenger A350-1000, worth at least $7 billion at or near list prices. of $3 billion after typical industry discounts.

WORLD CUP

The sweeping cancellation of the new A350 comes six months after Airbus also revoked the entire contract for 50 smaller A321neo jets in retaliation for Qatar’s refusal to accept A350 deliveries.

The spillover to a different model was called “concerning” by the head of a body representing global airlines, the International Air Transport Association. read more

The latest move is likely to widen the gap between two of the flagship companies of close allies France and Qatar.

Unless an elusive deal is reached, the dispute is already scheduled for a rare corporate trial in London next June. read more

It comes as the airline industry grapples with an uneven recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and Qatar Airways prepares to handle the bulk of the expected 1.2 million visitors to the FIFA World Cup in November and dicember.

Airbus has argued that the airline is using the dispute to bolster its finances and cut its fleet of expensive long-haul jets as its long-haul target market slowly recovers.

Qatar Airways, which posted its first annual profit since 2017 in June, maintains it needs more capacity for the World Cup, forcing it to lease planes and bring less efficient A380s out of retirement to fill the gap left by A350s in Earth.

The dispute centers on whether the A350’s problems – including what appears to be damage to parts of the wings, tail and hull according to two planes seen by Reuters – are due to a cosmetic problem or, as the airline claims, to a design flaw. read more

A Reuters investigation in November revealed that several other airlines had found surface damage since 2016, the A350’s second year of operations, prompting Airbus to speed up studies of an alternative mesh that also saves weight. Read more .

So far, however, none of the other roughly three dozen A350 operators have joined Qatar in raising safety concerns as a result of surface failures, as they continue to fly the plane.

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Information from Tim Hepher; editing by Jason Neely, Kirsten Donovan

Our standards: the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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