Airbus defeats Qatar Airways in lawsuit

A British judge denied the carrier a request to force the planemaker to deliver 50 A321neo jets that were canceled in January

Airbus emerged victorious in one of the legal disputes with Qatar Airways in London’s High Court on Tuesday. The carrier was unable to force the manufacturer to resume the contract to supply 50 A321neos, which it canceled in January after Qatar refused to receive A350 aircraft on order.

The British judge considered the airline’s argument, that it would have no other option to fill the gap left by the canceled order, as unlikely given that it could lease other aircraft or else depend on the order for 50 737 MAX closed with Boeing two weeks later after Airbus cancellation.

The decision paves the way for Airbus to offer the 50 production slots to other customers or eliminate them to bring forward the delivery of A320neo jets, whose queue is huge.

Behind the controversy is another lawsuit in which Qatar Airways seeks compensation of $1 billion from Airbus for problems with the deterioration of the skin-paint of the A350s it operates.

The company has already withdrawn more than 20 aircraft from service citing a safety risk, which Airbus denies.

Qatar A350 aircraft

Cross-default clause

Airbus was supposed to deliver the first A321neo to Qatar in January 2023, but in the face of a pending court case, it had only transferred the manufacturing slots to the end of that year.

The never-before-seen legal battle has brought to light then-secret details in commercial aircraft sales agreements. One of them served as a defense argument for Airbus, the so-called “cross-default” clause, which gives the manufacturer the right to cancel an order if the customer does not honor another agreement.

It was precisely because of Qatar’s refusal to receive more A350s that Airbus found the excuse to cancel the contract for 50 A321neos.

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