The dispute between the aircraft manufacturer Airbus and the airline Qatar Airways, which complained about paint defects on A350 aircraft, is taking on major proportions.

After the airline filed a lawsuit for compensation of around 618 million dollars - plus 4 million dollars for each additional day of dispute - for the shutdown of 21 aircraft in London, Toulouse is now countering.

Airbus no longer wants to deliver 50 ordered copies of the currently coveted A321neo series to Qatar Airways and has terminated the contract.

Timo Kotowski

Editor in Business.

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"We confirm that we have terminated the contract of 50 A321s in accordance with our rights," an Airbus spokesman said.

The aircraft manufacturer does not want to comment on further details of the dispute for the time being.

Apparently, Airbus is tired of the allegations from the emirate.

Qatar Airways boss Akbar al-Baker had previously criticized the A380, which is also used by the airline, as not being economical.

In the A350 dispute one should now fear reputational damage.

The termination of the A321neo order is therefore to be interpreted as an out-of-court defense by Airbus and a threat to Qatar.

50 A321 jets are not to be delivered

The airline had ordered 50 A321neo, the first of which should join the fleet from February 2023.

Without the previous supply contract, Qatar hardly has a chance of getting a new medium-haul aircraft of this size in the course of 2023.

Due to the high demand for this model, Airbus can easily find other customers who prefer deliveries.

For Qatar there are few alternatives.

The seating capacity of Boeing's previous 737 Max jets is smaller, the program for the enlarged 737 Max 10 version has been delayed.

The World Cup also plays a role

From Qatar Airways' point of view, an immense blow is threatened if 21 of the 53 long-haul A350 aircraft taken over remain on the ground - especially since the airline has also refused to take over further ordered A350 aircraft because of the dispute, 23 handovers are still pending.

In the fall of 2022, the soccer World Cup will take place in the emirate, and more than a million visitors are expected there.

A shortage of long-haul fleet capacity could have serious economic consequences.

But Airbus denies that it is even necessary to leave the jets, as the state aviation authority of Qatar has ordered for the also state-owned airline.

Other airlines have also reported damage to the paintwork, but none have taken aircraft out of service for longer.

The European aviation authority EASA did not see the airworthiness affected.

Peeling paint sometimes revealed a lattice structure underneath that acts as a lightning conductor.

Airbus has investigated the causes.

The main reason is said to be that the color and the fuselage, which is made of a new type of composite material, react differently to temperature differences on the ground and at cruising altitude.

According to Airbus, the problem only occurred in the first generation of the A350.

Apparently, Airbus also believes that Qatar Airways is only promoting the paint issue.

This emerges from court documents filed in London, which the Bloomberg news agency reported.

The manufacturer therefore argues that Qatar Airways tolerated or even caused the official flight ban in the emirate because the demand for flights is currently lower due to the corona pandemic.

Thus, the operational pause for the aircraft serves the economic interests of the airline.

Qatar Airways denies this.