A Qatar Airways jet arriving from Doha, Qatar, at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, in January 2015.
AP Photo/Michael Probst, File
- Airbus has canceled Qatar Airways’ order for two A350-1000 aircraft amid an ongoing dispute over surface paint issues.
- The move comes just weeks after Airbus canceled the carrier’s order for 50 A321 jets in response to a London lawsuit.
- Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker says Airbus has “destroyed” the relationship between the planemaker and the airline.
The dispute between Airbus and Qatar Airways continues as the planemaker cancels another one of the carrier’s aircraft orders.
On Tuesday, data from Airbus showed it has revoked the order of two A350-1000 aircraft from Qatar as tensions continue to rise over surface paint issues on the carrier’s A350 jets. The news was first reported by Reuters and later confirmed by Airbus to Insider, who said it had “notified Qatar’s default on failure to take 2 deliveries.”
“We confirm we did terminate delivery positions for 2 A350s with Qatar Airways in full compliance with our rights,” an Airbus spokesperson told Insider. “In this unprecedented situation, this decision came as a last resort and followed many fruitless attempts to find mutually beneficial solutions.”
The news comes just weeks after the planemaker canceled Qatar’s order of 50 A321 aircraft, which was prompted by the carrier suing Airbus in a London High Court for $618 million after it was forced to ground 21 of its A350s. According to Qatar, degrading paint on the widebody planes poses an airworthiness concern.
Qatar did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
The airline has been a long-time customer of Airbus, having been the launch carrier of the A350-1000, but the surface paint issues have “destroyed” their relationship, Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker told the South China Morning Post in December.
According to the carrier, the paint poses a safety threat, and its aviation regulator has instructed Qatar to ground the jets until Airbus has conducted a full root-cause analysis, which the airline says the planemaker has yet to do.
Despite Qatar’s claims, Airbus told Insider in January that it has “provided necessary guidance to its customers and operators for continuous operations.”
Moreover, Airbus has made it clear that the surface paint issues are simply “cosmetic” and not a safety concern.
“The attempt by this customer to misrepresent this specific topic as an airworthiness issue represents a threat to the international protocols on safety matters,” the company said in a December statement.
According to the manufacturer, its assessment was backed by the European Aviation Safety Agency. Meanwhile, Reuters reported six airlines, including Finnair, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Lufthansa, Delta Air Lines, and Air France, have noticed degrading paint on their A350s but have not grounded the jets.
In response to Airbus canceling the order for A321s, Qatar posted a video to its YouTube channel showing the paint issues, saying the planemaker’s decision was “a matter of considerable regret and frustration.”
Screenshot of surface paint issues on Qatar’s A350 aircraft from a full video showing the defects.
Shortly after the order was revoked, Qatar announced it had purchased up to 50 Boeing 737 MAX 10 passenger planes and 34 of Boeing’s new 777-8 freighter, with the option to acquire 16 more. The airline will be the launch customer of the new cargo jet, and the new MAXs will make products from the American planemaker the plurality of Qatar’s fleet.