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UK court orders Airbus to freeze Qatar Airways’ A321neo cancellation

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A British judge has ordered Airbus to postpone the cancellation of a multibillion-dollar deal for 50 A321neo planes with Qatar Airways in Doha.

In an ongoing and contentious dispute with Qatar Airways over paint quality flaws that have impacted several of the airframer’s larger A350 jets, Airbus has canceled the $6 billion contract.

A judge ordered Airbus on Friday during an early technical hearing at London’s High Court that it must postpone any practical steps that might prevent Qatar Airways from obtaining the new jets as planned.

The postponement has been requested until April when the full court hearing is scheduled.

The High Court will decide whether Airbus was within its rights to cancel the order by invoking a cross-default provision in Qatar Airways’ A350 jet contract during the full trial.

Qatar Airways first sued Airbus for at least $600 million, alleging that paint damage on at least 21 of its A350 jets was an airworthiness issue that caused the airline to ground the planes until the ‘root cause’ could be determined.

Airbus denies that the damage is a justification for the planes to be grounded, claiming that it has worked with other A350 operators who have all reached the same decision.

When Qatar Airways refused to take possession of two A350 planes manufactured for the carrier, the manufacturer canceled a second contract for 50 A321neos.

Qatar Airways and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) are concerned that Airbus is using market forces for the wildly popular A321neo plane to obtain a competitive edge over airlines.

Despite the ongoing legal struggle, Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury stated on Thursday that the European aircraft manufacturer is hopeful of reaching an “amicable settlement” 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.”

 

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