Exclusive Airbus hubs remaining A350 deal with Qatar Airways – sources

PARIS, August 3 (Reuters) – Airbus (AIR.PA) Two industry sources said its fully due order from Qatar Airways for the A350 jets, cutting all new aircraft business with the Gulf airline in a contentious new turn that shrouds World Cup preparations.

Airbus or Qatar Airways were not immediately available for comment.

The two aviation giants have been locked in a rare public battle for months over the horrific condition of more than 20 long-haul planes that the airline says could pose a risk to passengers and that Airbus insists are perfectly safe.

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Qatar Airways, which was the first airline to bring an intercontinental plane to the skies in 2015, is suing Airbus for at least $1.4 billion after half of its A350 fleet was grounded by the country regulator due to early surface damage.

It declined to take more A350s until it received a deeper explanation for the damaged or missing spots from the lightning-resistant grille left exposed by peeling paint. Read more

Backed by European regulators, Airbus has acknowledged quality issues on the planes, but has denied any safety risks from loopholes in the protective subclass, saying there are ample spares.

So far, the dispute has had a partial impact on the order book for Europe’s largest twin-engined aircraft, with first Airbus, and then Qatar Airways, winding down some individual planes.

But the sources said Airbus has now told the airline that it has written off the rest of the A350 deal from its books, and requested anonymity because discussions remain confidential. Read more

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At the end of June, the European aircraft maker secured pending orders from Qatar Airways for 19 of the largest version of the aircraft, the 350-passenger A350-1000, worth at least $7 billion at catalog prices or nearly $3 billion after industry-typical cuts. .

Airbus’ share was up 0.41% at 1401 GMT after trimming earlier gains by half.

world Cup

The new sweeping cancellation of the A350 comes six months after Airbus canceled a contract for 50 smaller A321neo planes in response to Qatar’s refusal to take delivery of the A350.

The head of the body representing global airlines, the International Air Transport Association, described the spread of this model as “disturbing”. Read more

The latest move is likely to widen the rift between two major companies, close allies France and Qatar.

Unless a far-fetched settlement is reached, the dispute is already underway at a rare firm’s trial in London next June. Read more

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

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

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

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The dispute revolves around whether the A350’s problems – including what appears to be damage to parts of the wings, tail and hull according to two jet aircraft seen by Reuters – stem from a cosmetic issue or, as the airline claims, a design flaw. Read more

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

However, so far, none of the other 36 A350 operators have joined Qatar in expressing safety concerns as a result of surface flaws, as they continue to fly the aircraft.

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Tim Heaver reports. Additional reporting by Alexander Cornwell. Editing by Jason Neely, Kirsten Donovan

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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