Cross-defaults led to Airbus cancellation of Qatar A321neo order

By Scott Hamilton

Feb. 18, 2022, © Leeham News: Qatar Airways was in default of its Airbus contracts, allowing the OEM to cancel the orders for two A350-1000s and 50 A321neos, say people familiar with how these things work.

In a court filing last month, Airbus directly made this assertion.

The moves by Airbus over several weeks to cancel the orders from a major customer that is not in financial distress is unheard of.

Qatar and Airbus are embroiled in a very public dispute over flaking paint on A350s owned by Qatar that now is the subject of lawsuits in a London court. The airline seeks nearly $700m in damages. Qatar claims the flaking paint is a safety issue, backed by the government regulator that grounded 23 A350s. Airbus, and its governing regulator, EASA, say no safety issue is at stake.

Airbus offered to repaint the airplanes and provide compensation, say people familiar with the situation. The compensation was unacceptable to Qatar Airways, they say.

Defaults and cross-defaults

LNA is told that Qatar almost certainly suspended progress payments during the dispute. It was unknown if this was for the A321neos or A350s or both. Qatar has said it was current on its obligations for the A321neos. But it also said in a court filing it wasn’t obligated to accept delivery of any more A350s due to the dispute.

“Qatar also alleges that one consequence of the…alleged defect(s) in the A350 (which, as noted above, are denied) – is that Qatar is not obliged to accept delivery of new aircraft by virtue of clause 8 and/or clause 12 of the [purchase contract]. Airbus’ position is that this is wrong and that Qatar is in clear default of its contractual obligations in relation to two A350 aircraft that Airbus has tendered for delivery,” a London court wrote on Jan. 19.

When Airbus tendered two A350-1000s for delivery, Qatar refused to accept them. This triggered a default, allowing Airbus to cancel these two orders, Airbus said in a court filing, cited in the Jan. 19 court document.

“On 17 January 2022, Airbus served notice on Qatar to terminate its obligation to deliver one of those A350 aircraft and also exercised its right to terminate a separate contract with Qatar for the delivery of A321 aircraft pursuant to a cross-default provision in the [purchase contract]. Airbus anticipates that this will give rise to a further issue between the parties as to whether it was entitled to terminate and, if so, what losses Airbus can recover from Qatar as a result of the termination.

In court Feb. 18, Qatar characterized the A321neo cancellation as a “hand grenade” thrown by Airbus, Reuters reported.

Qatar Airways did not respond to a request for comment. Airbus declined comment.

116 Comments on “Cross-defaults led to Airbus cancellation of Qatar A321neo order

  1. In court Feb. 18, Qatar characterized the A321neo cancellation as a “hand grenade” thrown by Airbus,

    Hahaha, this is nothing but hilarious 😀
    It is almost like I feel Airbus should make good on the contract just because of Qatar’s sense of humor :p

  2. The A321 order cancellation has evidently spooked Qatar badly because the new UK court filing is seeking an *injunction* against Airbus rather than a regular-pace ruling.

    It may work against Qatar that the UK regulator has not branded the paint problem as a safety issue: a UK court will likely have a degree of deference to what the UK regulator has to say on the matter. Although no UK carrier has A350s with this problem (that we know of), other carriers flying into the UK (such as Etihad) do. Also, British Airways has paint delamination problems on its 787 wings, and the UK regulator has not branded that a saftey issue.

    As regards cross default: if it’s (even implicitly) in the contract, then the Qatar case doesn’t stand much chance.

    • All an injunction does is hold things in place.

      Nothing to do with spooked, standard procedure.

      UK should defer to the AHJ which is Qatar, otherwise its an EASA/Qatar AHJ issue and the UK is no longer part of EASA.

      • Injunction rulings are issued more quickly (hours or days), and thus generally sought in “urgent” circumstances.

        Airbus has offices in the UK, so Qatar is entitled to choose that country as a forum.

        • England (rather than UK) was “chosen” because Airbus contracts are written using English law.

          • *SOME* Airbus contracts defer to the law of “England and Wales” for conflict resolution — not all.

        • You can not choose a country as a forum.

          The contracts will specify which law is applied and in which country disputes are going to be settled. UK courts are often chosen as a) they are in English and b) reputable. For us, UK courts are preferred if it can not be the law of our country. On the other hand, if I have a contract and the law/court is in the US, I need special approval which is refused most of the time.
          For most of our contracts, we specify that disputes will not go to court, but will be settled by a mediation centre. Again, if it can not be local, it will be the UK or Switzerland.

          • You certainly can choose a country as a forum if the matter at stake is not clearly covered by a contract — or by just a single contract. In this case, it’s not clear to what extent the sales contract between Qatar and Airbus covers “ex post facto” guarantee issues, and monetary compensation rights.
            In general, an entity in country X who has a bone to pick with an entity in country Y can choose to begin proceedings in country X or Y. This is called “forum shopping”.

            https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/forum_shopping

        • Doesn’t the contract language hold some item about “place of litigation”? All my business connections have that.

    • Qatars case probably rests in the master deviation document which specifies the faults the aircraft is still allowed to fly with. Qatar will argue that Airbus hasn’t specified measures for the amount (surface area) and quality (depth) of degradation) backed up by sufficient tests and calculations as demanded by Qatar. Airbus will just say we offered to fix it. Qatar will say we shouldn’t have to fix this ongoingly. Airbus will say you have to do ongoing maintenance on anything etc etc.
      ABB has apparently personally rejected A350 in the past, being dissatisfied with the Ottoman Bordello look interior. I think Airbus have been quite frustrated for years with this customer.

    • The UK civil courts have a reputation for rigorous impartiality which they cherish to uphold. They also tend not to indulge foolery. Probably the best in the world for this sort of thing. It imagine the most best and most expensive Queens Counsels will be engaged.

      • I can only imagine that the fees charged will be sky high…

        I’ll get my coat.

        This all seems to be totally nuts. Interesting that Airbus appear to be confident of its position, not surprising given that it can likely sell on any cancelled Qatar orders.

        • Matthew:

          Get your coat of paint? (grin)

          The A321 can be easily (or have been) sold. Its 11 year old at this point. None seem to have actually been built for Qatar.

          That said, while the A350-1000 probably can be, ungh, tear out interior, replace, then sell and no future A350 buys from Qatar?

    • The paint issues on the A350 are associated with exposure of the the lightening strike protection mesh so perhaps its a more serious issue. We have not seen expert opinion on the matter.

      • All the more reason to accept the re-painting offer from Airbus rather than leaving the airframes sitting out in the elements.
        Qatar will be lucky if it isn’t told by the Court that it hasn’t exercised “all due care” with the airframes, thereby voiding warranty.

        • I agree fully with you here. One could contest, if QR are truly concerned about the effects of degradation on ‘their/owned’ airframes, they wouldn’t leave the ‘black plastic/resin’ further and continually exposed to the harsh desert weather. Beggars belief anyone would just leave such expensive machinery idle when a fix is offered and ligation (warranted or not) could still occur in parallel. Idiotic. ABB needs to be ousted for total stupidity. Airbus will never RFP again so they QR will be at a disadvantage in negotiations for future fleets.

          • I am failing to see the reasoning.

            First, while I have no idea if the Qatar AHJ is captive, they do have a ruling that the A350 is a safety issue.

            Secondly, if you accept the patch, you can’t litigate. Airbus has offered compensation. You have no case.

            As for parking the A350? The environment is not the issue, it looks like all operators have had it, including the Finns and their network is more to colder climates.

        • Yes, if Airbus offer to strip and repaint all aircrafts effected and Qatar says no, just give us the money now during Covid times. Airbus most likely with the help of Akzo Nobel has improved filler, primer, top coat and clear coats to make a much more reliable composit/titaium parts paint scheme and if that causes any flaking that Airbus fix the local problem over night until it is due for heavy check and full strip&repaint with an even better paint scheme.

          • Indeed – exactly.

            Adhesion of organic coatings to copper substrates is a known issue; the adhesion to pure copper is good enough, but adhesion to copper oxide is less satisfactory. In this particular issue, the lightning mesh is made of copper.

            There are adhesion promoters that can be added to paints/coatings in order to improve adhesion to inorganic substrates.
            There are also companies that offer specialized surface treatments of copper substrates so as to improve adhesion (see link).

            The whole accusation of compromised lightning mesh sounds highly unlikely. Copper is an extremely durable material: there are 500-year-old copper roofs in Europe that still do their job. Once a copper oxide layer forms, it acts as a protective barrier to prevent further oxygen incursion into the underlying substrate. Unlike iron oxide (rust), a surfacial copper oxide layer is not brittle.

            Airbus has already noted that paints from different manufacturers differ in their adhesion performance. It therefore is, indeed, a matter of fine-tuning the paint composition and application. AAB could just have accepted the remedy offered to / enacted for Lufthansa (for example) — but, no, he had to turn the matter into a three-ring circus. There’s something else going on here.

            https://www.aculon.com/adhesion-promotion-copper/

        • What’s the reason for grounding the whole fleet? Does every Qatari A350 suffer to the same extent of paint deterioration?? Why no other country/airline take similar action??

          This whole shenanigan looks like a manufactured crisis that doesn’t pass the smell test.

      • Not an expert in airliner paint but I do know something on industrial painting and material behaviour.
        First: painting an airliner =\ painting a car.
        In many places I have seen the words “if my car was flaking this way…”; paint on cars is applied on steel (mostly), with robots and in fully controlled environment and process. It has no constraint on mass and is not intended to be changed when sold.
        On airliners paint is applied by people, in hangars, and repaint is quite common.
        Most important, a painting cycle that saves some mass (100-200 kg) is worth a lot of fuel during the life of the aircraft, therefore worth a shorter life of the painting itself.
        That’s why AAB pretending to have a “final solution” for the problem seems to me only a pretext to squeeze more concession from Airbus.

      • -> “We have not seen expert opinion on the matter.”

        🤣🤣🤣

        Who are the experts in aircraft safety?? How about the EASA?

        -> ‘ … the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) expressed its opposite opinion over the matter. The European regulator reportedly does not intend to take any actions over the potential risks since it has not indicated any paint and protection degradation that could affect the structure of the jet nor introduces “other risks” ‘

        • EASA hadn’t looked a the issue proper until 2020 and from what i have read Airbus did not fully notify them of the extent of the issues.

          Willie Walsh’s remarks almost sums it up perfectly.

          He questioned the magnitude of the paint issues and that Airbus was more than willing to pull the legal leaver when financially struggling airlines had to accept aircraft.

          the context to this story probably goes far beyond ABB and Qatar.

          • -> “EASA hadn’t looked a the issue proper until 2020 … ”

            Well for those who have been following this, they would be aware that:

            – Qatar said that the problem first came to light in *November 2020* when an A350 was removed from service to be repainted in Shannon, Ireland. During the removal of the surface paint it was discovered that the jet suffered from accelerated surface degradation

            – In a separate statement, EASA said it visited the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority and viewed some of the affected planes in September. 

            “Despite the degraded paint condition, EASA has not at this time identified any airworthiness concerns with the A350 due to the paint deterioration, including the composite structure and the lightning protection of the aircraft,” the European agency said.

          • No one identified the MAX MCAS as an issue before the crashes (Brazil did see it and made Boeing put it in the manuals)

            Legally Qatar is obligated by their AHJ to ground it.

            The EASA is the one that approved the failing RR engines on the Norwegian 787 that bug the grace of the powers that be did not suffer a twin engine failure.

            In fact, it was not even one new and one failure prone engine, it was allowing two failure prone engines.

            Read the report on it, an eyelash blink away from both failing.

            India refused to let even one bad GTF on the A320s and rightfully so.

            RR repeatedly blew the prediction on the engine failures.

            EASA is no paragon of virtue

    • Strike one Airbus….
      Suggest you start setting aside some of those record profits from last year !!!

    • Its a weird one where Qatar has made a clear decision to MAX but not legally dropped the A321 order.

      Also where in the Q is Qatar for A321 delivery?

      • See the bar charts. There is 1 A320 to be delivered in 2022. Then about 10/year till 2027. So there is lots of time for this to play out. Sometime in 2022 there should be a ruling as too if AB can cancel the A320 contracts. But even if they can they may not immediately resell those slots but rather give Qatar a chance to backdown, accept the AB fix to the 350 and reinstate the order.

        • Qatar back down? AAB has pure little man syndrome.

          That’s a non-starter…imo

          • AAB has bosses, doesn’t he?
            ( seem to remember some event where he was leashed in in the past.)

          • -A CEO reports to a Board of Directors (who represent the shareholders). Who the knows how it works in a Qatar though.

          • Emir of Qatar is 100% owner.
            Don’t expect a formalized share-holder environment. 🙂

          • -> Emir of Qatar is 100% owner

            Got two capital injections from *the state* in last two years nonetheless??

          • -> ” … CEO reports to a Board of Directors”

            Srsly??

            Take a look at BA:

            What had the board done when the co. was seriously drifting off course, other than being cheerleaders with Calhoun sitting on his hands in a front row seat??

        • Why on earth QR petitioned the court to seek reinstatement of the order for fifty Airbus A321neo??

          Looks like QR believes the MAX is only the second best and tells you what they truly want.

          • Articles elsewhere have said there is $330M tied to predelivery payments. I’d assume they would like this refunded or the ability to sell the slots. I’d doubt QR actually wants to fly them at this point, but they could sell them to someone else or lease them out similar to their earlier a350s

          • Zoom:

            What QR wants is clear, it wants the restatement of its A321 order, NOT a return of its money.

      • There is an expression in the English language. “To cut of ones nose to spite ones own face”. It refers to an angry over reaction. People aren’t thinking clearly, they’re thinking of revenge.

        • You think AB is looking for “revenge”?
          I’d say that AB has simply had enough of an eternal nag and is clinically excising him from its customer base.

          If anything, it’s AAB who has “cut off his nose to spite his face” — it’s doubtful that he foresaw what has now transpired.

        • There’s a business concept known as “Fire the customer “ which Airbus has invoked here. It’s used when your customers’ business model doesn’t match yours and the cost of managing them exceeds and benefit they bring.

          Businesses do it all the time. It’s not usually as big or as visible as this case though.

          • Yes, the analysis on the future of the ME3 is interesting. Will they fade as new longer range more effective aircraft versions with new engines are certified flying non-stop or is the “reshuffle” of pax/cargo in Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi still a model in years to come. If Russia shoots itself in the foot in Ukraine and becomes a large N. Korea its oil/gas exports would be swapped with shipments from the Middle East until sun and wind can replace it in 20-30 years time. Chealsea FC might be expropriated and given to the supporter club the week after an attack.

          • @ claes
            Putin came back from the opening ceremony of the winter Olympics with thirty years of gas contracts in his pocket — in Rubles. And sanctioned Iran and Venezuela currently export huge quantities of (relatively cheap) oil to China. China is also “buddying up” to Saudi Arabia — recently helped it to build its own ballistic missiles. We may yet find in “the west” that we’re the ones that have shot ourselves in the foot.

            Apart from that: it’s doubtful that point-to-point is ever going to replace hub operations to a great extent. For example, I can fly Qatar from Dublin to Phuket via Doha — but there simply isn’t enough demand on that route to put on a direct flight. It’s also “greener” to fly via a hub (less fuel weight).

      • But, interestingly, not a clear enough decision for the commitment to be a firm order with deposits paid.

  3. What will AAB do if/when the MAX-10 cert is further delayed?
    Maybe he’ll “incentivize” the Qatari regulator to certify the MC-21; after all, Qatari/Russian relations are quite good.

    • -I notice Aercap has ordered about 50 B737 MAX, some of which are conversions of B787. Qatar Airlines can lease B737 and then either return the aircraft after the lease expires or buy out the residual. Fly Dubai does very well out of B737-800/900 and 8/9.
      -The B737-10 economics should compete fairly well with the standard A321neo when it become available to Qatar (I imagine 2014 till then it must use the B737-8/9) -Boeing has nothing like the A321LR/XLR but they are a relatively small components of Qatar Airways order. Qatar will make do with B787 on those routes or maybe B737-7 (which has a nice range)
      -Qatar has plenty of options.
      -Airbus has to be careful not to allow Qatar to claim it was damaged by the cancellation of the A321 order in case elements of the case rule against them.

      • William:

        The 737-10 is a hobbled aircraft compared to even a standard A321CEO.

        Yes the 8-9-10 offer various advantages over the A320, but for sure not the A321 even in its CEO guise let alone NEO.

      • L.A. Times:

        Boeing has called its 737 Max 8 ‘not suitable’ for certain airports

  4. It would be hilarious if they do a haggle and Qatar ended up taking a bunch of A350Fs at the end of this.

    Not totally impossible I suspect

    • Interesting nuance here — there’s a difference between:
      (1) Taking actions to terminate a contract (active); and
      (2) Failing to take actions to honor/execute a contract (passive).

      So there appears to be no compulsion on AB to deliver aircraft until the base case is settled: it can just park them without interior fitting or paint job, and twiddle its thumbs. Only 2 aircraft slated for delivery this year anyway, so not much of an inconvenience for AB — but enough to keep AAB fuming.

  5. Significantly, no other operator or airworthiness authority has said that this is a safety issue. That includes EASA, the prime regulator for the type, despite reviewing the data/evidence from Qatar. That speaks for itself. My interpretation is that Al Baker, who has a certain ‘reputation’, has wildly misjudged his strategy with this one. And, in the process, saddled himself with only one supplier going forward. Hardly a good place to be when there are only two possible suppliers to your business! It’s certainly a ballsy move by Airbus. But the fact that it has happened at all says much about how they feel about Qatar as a client. And you can be sure that they have run the numbers, and all the possible scenarios, and decided that this is the correct outcome for them (i.e. to permanently cut ties with this particular customer).

    • Indeed.
      On the one hand, we have a puppet regulator in a country with only one major airline and no aerospace industry.
      On the other hand, we have EASA and 6 national regulators — most of them in countries with multiple airlines, and some with a domestic aerospace industry.

      Whose opinion shall we take more seriously? 🤔

        • Agunn:

          I will disagree. The EASA has proven its just like the FAA (was, may still be) in that it allows various failures to be present while giving operators years to fix what can be a critical issue.

          It failed utterly to review the MAX documentation. The failed to ground it (China was the first)

          The A320/A321 has a nasty failure mode in its computer system at one point and the operator were given 5 years to correct it.

          There was a work around. Smells a lot like MCAS that they got away with to me.

          So in the midst of a crisis you have to remember there is an alternate procedure in place that is not to your original training. Phew.

          And yes I was affected, my wife was flying an A320 right at the time it came out. Sorry dear, I did not know what the risk was until the announced it yesterday. Non refundable ticket…………..

    • And yet, nobody has seen the “grounding order” that the QCAA has allegedly issued. Flight Global asked to see a copy and was met with a wall of silence.

      • Qatar can only show four aircraft with paint issue but grounded the whole fleet??

        -> According to the lawsuit, the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority grounded the aircraft as “a *precautionary measure* to prevent any untoward incident or accident caused” by the surface degradation.

        -> Other airlines, including Finnair Oyj, have noticed the paint issue, though none has stopped flying the A350. A Finnair spokeswoman described the problem as “cosmetic only” and said in an email it was addressed in connection with routine maintenance. The oldest A350 aircraft in Finnair’s fleet have been more affected, and the paint technology has advanced for newer models, she says.

        • The issue revolves around ‘aircraft on the ground’ compensation I believe. Airbus probably offered to pay for the paint work and the aircraft on the ground time during painting but not this bizarre Qatar regulator grounding.
          The engine maker for the A321neos is CFM LEAP 1 so what SAFRAN/GE loose on the A321neo cancellation they’ll pick up on the MAX orders.

          • No country/airline (other than Qatar/QR) has decided to ground the aircraft, nonetheless the whole fleet. Most would agree it’s a manufactured crisis.

          • The Qatar Airlines A350 are some of the oldest in existence and possibly have been in the harshest conditions. They would likely be seeing the worst

    • “Significantly, no other operator or airworthiness authority has said that this is a safety issue.”

      Another thing noteworthy is that Boeing has about the same issues with paint adhesion. (same time frame or even earlier? very silently handled)
      For Airbus it is blown all over the place and Boeing can watch from the shadows. I would not be surprised if there is some “competitive action” from the B side under the hood.
      .. and AAB vying for some rebate points …

    • Faury, an ex helicopter test pilot, seems to have big brass ones seems to be quite shrewd and very willing to be aggressive. Scherer comes across as more intellectual and charismatic. Both Faury and Scherer are very formidable. Not sure how Leahy and Enders would have worked this. Enders seemed particularly affable and jocular able to diffuse anything.

    • If FAA have been in the pocket of Boeing for so long are they capable of even mounting a challenge to EASA, who might of course be in the pocket of ……..!

      • They seem to have been busy to the (perceived) advantage of Boeing. Read the Chapter on FAA interaction in the A380 Book. EASA had issues with the MAX design up front but the FAA seems to have left them “out to dry”
        .( seems to hang on that mutual acceptance thing )

        On the other hand A350XWB certification got its brown kiss from the FAA delayed.
        Another one of these Jovi not Bovi interactions.

        Longtime fall out is the same as with other US industrial protectionism.
        Holding Airbus’ feet to the flames on certification details
        probably improved their product quite a bit in some details.
        An improvement vector that the EASA could never achieve for US products.

  6. A well deserved response by AB to Al-Baker’s constant arrogant/childish behavior/demands to Aircraft manufacturers, which will certainly be repeated with Boeing in the future. If Qatar Airways is to survive in the future as a respected airline, they better start looking for a replacement CEO.

    • His Excellency’s ego and connections will probably preclude that from happening.

  7. Yesterday Qatar Airways got 2 small victories in the case.

    1. The High court in London ordered Airbus not to cancel the order for 50 A321 as long as there is no decision in the main case (probably on April 26). BTW: Qatar paid already 330 millions for the A321 (on average 6,6 million per aircraft).

    2. Airbus tried to delay the first court hearing on April 4, arguing they need more time to prepare. The court rejected that request.

    I find it a little bit strange, that Airbus was arguing all the time, that the case is crystal clear: There is no structural damage because of the missing paint and Qatar is talking pure nonsense. But now they and not Qatar need more time to prepare for the case?

    • April is just 2 months away.
      It’s not always easy to secure testimony from independent experts: some are professors with very busy schedules. Also, if Airbus wants an independent lab to conduct tests, there’ll probably be a waiting list. I’ve been involved in several complicated corporate lawsuits — it typically takes much longer than 4 months for a first (non-injunctive) hearing.
      There’s a difference between knowing that you’re correct and proving that you’re correct.
      I have reservations about the quality of any “proof” that Qatar thinks it can present.

  8. Important to note that Qatar Airways and the saftey authorities in Qatar have the same owner.
    Important to note that Airbus fully accepts the issue and offered a solution, to simply repaint, which Qatar refused.
    As the only airlines operating the A350 in the world.
    As the only authority in the world.

    Pretty clear case, the question is why in gods name did Qatar go this way?
    Do they want less A35k and have ordered to many large WBs?
    Do they think it’s better to go with B777x?
    Are they short on cash and can’t pay?
    Or do they really belive they have a point there and everyone else is wrong?

    Smth is so fishy about this case. As i don’t see why Qatar would go down this road while Boeing is litteraly 10x times wores with its b787 and 5 years late with its B777x.
    Why would you blame Airbus all the time in public, while you don’t Baker at Boeing?

    • Boeing does seem much worse indeed (just finished reading “Flying Blind” so might be slightly spooked still!).

      Short term gratification seems an important motivator for Al Bakr who obviously has no worries about what happens “bourra”…

  9. AIG has an interesting article today on this Qatar/Airbus dispute:
    “Is Qatar Airways betting on two horses?”

    Notably (emphasis added): “Airbus has been summoned by the judge not to undertake any action until then that could put Qatar’s order position at risk, *but the airframer stated that the order positions have already been removed from the production schedule*.

    https://airinsight.com/is-qatar-airways-betting-on-two-horses/

    • Those slots are quite valuable, even more so if Qatar got a better deal on the aircraft than you can get now. I’d not be surprised if Qatar wants monetize the orders by flipping the aircraft or leasing them out.

      And if Airbus got wind of that you could see how they would want to squash that move.

  10. I see all of this as yet another brilliant strategic move by Airbus to box in Boeing: you don’t have enough to deal with in Seattle/Chicago? Enjoy your 24/7 face time with Al Baker. He’s all yours, have fun and good luck!

  11. Airbus is already oversold on A321. They are perfectly content to take their ball and go home. They will have no problem re-selling those deliveries to an airline who is happy to take them.

      • It’s the decision on the issues raised here.
        Extension of time for Airbus
        Injunction on delivery

  12. There have been some comments in this thread about wider contexts. Those are really valid points. We have to look at the history of Airbus and the A350 and AAB/Qatar. There was, initially, the disagreements over delivery of the first frames, with AAB citing alleged ‘quality’ issues (despite no other airline complaining of any such issues). The impasse between the notoriously difficult AAB and Airbus reached such a deadlock that Airbus, ,highly reluctantly (reportedly), tried to ‘run around’ AAB and appealed directly to the Emir. Nobody knows the exact outcome of that move. But deliveries restarted. However, it’s been speculated that AAB has been holding a grudge about that ever since and has been waiting to settle that score. Not everyone is probably aware that, subsequently, AAB went after Rolls Royce, claiming that they weren’t offering adequate support for the Trents on his frames, despite being the only airline to say that. That was gearing up to be a major showdown. But then the skin issue rather conveniently came up, which AAB has run and run with. Looking at that context, you can’t help but feel that AAB has an (unreasonable) axe to grind with Airbus. And it’s really no wonder that Airbus has decided to terminate its relationship with this particular customer. Essentially, AAB and Qatar have been binned. The same way that Airbus has previously binned O’Leary and Ryanair (yes, this has happened before, as Airbus won’t participate in Ryanair invitations to tender). Some customers are just not worth the hassle. That’s business!

    • I also worked at Boeing as well. Qatar was constantly rejecting Charleston planes which didn’t make sense because Everett was sending workers down to Charleston to help with reworks. So you’re getting the same quality as Everett was doing. I guess Boeing threw their hands up in the air and said “Fine, we’ll transfer all your orders to Everett”. My hypothesis is that Qatar was deep in the hole, couldn’t take deliveries, kept stalling on deliveries, and then it resumed back to normal somewhat. Back in 2019, they didn’t take 6 Everett planes until December all on the same day so Everett sat on a number of 787’s for quite some time.

      Eventually Qatar’s going to have to take deliveries for the 787-10’s they have on order which there are currently two designated for them when Boeing resumes deliveries of the 787 after FAA certification. Going to be interesting if Qatar does the same game again complaining about Charleston once more even though it’s impossible to assemble 787-10’s in Everett.

  13. While I can imagine Al Baker pushed all the wrong buttons to get where he is now, the unbalance in civil aerospace between A&B today makes possible manufacturer selling power that might not be benefiting the global business longer term..

    • Qatar will do fine without Airbus. I doubt Boeing will exploit the situation and gain a reputation for profiteering. A 3rd supplier would make profits impossible. Qatar can turn to the E195-2 and in 4-5 years probably the C919 and MC21

      • Replacing the A321 with E195-2? The difference in seating capacity alone makes that a laughable idea. TheC919 and MC21 are both said to be one generation behind in in economics. And both countries dont have demonstrated the capability to offer proper parts support on an international scale yet. The russians instead have demonstrated with a mexican customer their support capabilities are an utter failure.

      • E2-195

        A regional jet with 2×2 seating and a range of 2,600 NM to replace the A321, with some LR/XLR’s in the mix?

        I’m sure the Qatari’s will just love that.

        “Yes, well here we have our double decker A-380’s with luxurious business & first class, along with our 787 Dreamliners, our big 777 twins and these are our E2-195 sardine cans…”

  14. Airbus fans keep saying Boeing will experience AAB issues but forget that Boeing is a bigger customer to Qatar than Airbus. They deliver more aircraft to Qatar so they have AAB figure out. They were also the freighter supplier and I could not figure out why people believe AAB was going to buy A350 freighter over the 777x. You only change supplier when the product is better, cheaper and less maintenance.

    • Yes, indeed.
      – The MAX is clearly “better” — just look at its fabulous track record, and current certification delays for the -7 and -10.
      – The 787 is clearly “better” — that’s why there’s been a production stop for a year over QC problems, and why AAB previously threw a tantrum over its FOD issues.
      – The 777X is clearly “better” — that’s why its certification still isn’t in the bag (far from it), and why its order book is so thin.

      AAB’s “flight to quality” should be an inspiration to others 😏

    • “You only change supplier when the product is better, cheaper and less maintenance.”

      Exactly! 🙂

  15. Another one of this:
    We don’t know the contract details. So it’s possible the A321neo order came with plenty of discounts in combination with the A350 ordern.
    That has happend before with Etihad, who (tried?) cancelled their B777x order and only continued with their B787-10 order, but Boeing has booked a lot of discounts on the -10. Would be a nice loophole for Airlines if A & B would allow this.

    It’s also pretty standard that courts don’t allow “fait accompli” – if Airbus cancels the order and simply sells the slots they have made a new reality, no matter what the judges might decide.
    So this has a postponing effect, and the A321neo slots are in high demand.

    They will go down this road a while till smth reasonable comes up.

    • -> ” … the airframer stated that the order positions have already been removed from the production schedule.”

  16. I’m sure that ABB is being unreasonable and the A321 pricing made Airbus eyes water and the A350 would also have been a very cheap launch deal. But its in the job description for him and David O’Leary to make Airbus and Boeing cry.

  17. Time to buy some A330 Neo’s and be done with it. That aircraft has shown to be a reliable and versatile workhorse.

  18. Another big point could be discounts billed from the A350 on the A321neo order.

    If Qatar isn’t paying an taking those A350s, why would you sell your A321neos under value? That’s usually one reason why you would ahve cross default clauses.

    Also, everyone knows that IAG is the next big airline ordering SA replacement. For whatever reason they have ordered about 100 Neos, but still need at least another 150.
    Airbus is their logical supplier, and it’s pretty hard to imagine them to go with the Max.
    You can guess who’s taking these Qatar slots with love.

    I wouldn’t be suprised it IAG would order, though Qatar is one of their sharholders.

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