Airbus Revokes Qatar Order For 50 A321 Jets
Airbus on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2021, raised the stakes in a dispute with major customer Qatar Airways over grounded and undelivered A350 jets by announcing it had revoked a separate contract for 50 smaller A321neo jets the airline plans to use for new routes, Tim Hepher reported for Reuters.
Photo Insert: The Airbus A321neo
The move widens a dispute that moved closer towards a rare courtroom clash on Thursday, with a procedural hearing over Qatar's claim for more than $600 million in compensation over A350 flaws penciled in for the week of April 26 in London.
Airbus revealed it was walking away from the contract for A321neos in skeletal arguments presented during a scheduling session over the A350 dispute at a division of Britain's High Court on Thursday, people familiar with the matter said.
"We confirm we did terminate the contract for 50 A321s with Qatar Airways in accordance with our rights," an Airbus spokesman said following a filing setting out provisional arguments, reported earlier by Bloomberg News.
Qatar Airways is expected to fight the A321neo contract's termination, having said it plans to take delivery of the jets even though it is refusing to take more A350s until a dispute over surface erosion on the larger planes has been resolved.
The airline said in a court filing that it was "working through the practical consequences" of the A321 decision, adding that Airbus was not entitled to declare a "cross-default" on the basis of Qatar's refusal to take more A350s in the main dispute.
Qatar Airways had no immediate comment on the A321neo contract, which has its roots in an order 10 years ago worth $4.6 billion at list prices, originally for a smaller version. Qatar Airways has said the A321s will help it launch flights to new markets where there is currently not enough demand for larger aircraft, but which are out of reach of smaller A320s.