Airbus Cancels Qatar Airways’ Remaining A350 Orders

Qatar Airways A350-1000
Credit: Airbus / Jean-Vincent Reymondon

PARIS—Airbus has canceled the remaining 19 A350 aircraft on order to Qatar Airways, the latest step in an ongoing dispute between the two, an industry source has confirmed with Aviation Daily. 

The dispute over fuselage surface degradation on more than 20 of Qatar’s A350s dates back to 2020. Airbus had delivered 53 A350s to the Gulf carrier by December 2021 when Qatar launched legal proceedings, leaving 23 outstanding. After Qatar stopped taking delivery of the type, Airbus canceled four from its order book, leaving the 19 which have now been canceled. The aircraft, for now, remain on Airbus’ orders and deliveries website.

Reuters first reported Airbus’s move. Qatar Airways did not immediately respond to a request for comment.  

The cancellation follows the latest major development in the dispute, which came in May when both carriers claimed partial victory from a London High Court ruling on the case. 

In the May 26 ruling, High Court Judge David Waksman granted Qatar’s request for an expedited trial but rejected the carrier’s call to prevent Airbus from delivering its A350s to the airline or, if the carrier refuses to take them, enforcing contractual provisions and possibly re-marketing them.   

Immediately after the ruling Qatar said it was pleased to have been granted an expedited trial. Concurrently, Airbus applauded the court’s decisions to reject Qatar’s requests for injunctions regarding the A350 as well as the airline’s proposal to split the trial into two separate parts.   

Qatar Airways claims the surface issue affects safety because some copper foil used to protect against lightning strikes has been damaged. Its regulator, the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority, ordered 21 of the carrier’s A350s grounded as a result. 

Airbus acknowledged the paint and foil damage but said its analysis, as well as analysis done by EASA, determined the issue does not present any safety risk. While other A350 operators have reported similar issues, Qatar Airways is the only one to have grounded aircraft over it.

Helen Massy-Beresford

Based in Paris, Helen Massy-Beresford covers European and Middle Eastern airlines, the European Commission’s air transport policy and the air cargo industry for Aviation Week & Space Technology and Aviation Daily.