The delivery of another Qatar Airways A350-900 has been quietly halted by Airbus. In an ongoing and increasingly contentious disagreement between the Toulouse plane maker and the Gulf carrier, this is the third A350 aeroplane that has not been delivered. Qatar Airways stepped up the ante last week, claiming that surface faults on the A350s increased the chance of fuel tanks burning.
Qatar Airways is demanding more than $1 billion in compensation for the grounded A350s, while Airbus is asking $220 million for the first two A350s that have yet to be delivered. Separately, Airbus cancelled a deal for 50 Airbus A321neos, which is also being challenged in court.
The A350's design and production, according to Qatar Airways, are flawed. Small spider fractures, wider cracks around the window frames, exposure of the lightning protection and the underlying composite surface, and damage to the lightning protection layer, according to the Doha-based airline. Qatar Airways has the support of Qatar's local aviation safety agency.
Qatar Airways has been outspoken in its concerns of Airbus for over a year, and the A350 issue stretches back over a year. More lately, Airbus has started to play hardball with Qatar, with the cancellation of 50 A321neos dealing a serious damage to the airline's long-term plan. Now, news from Toulouse is that the remaining 20 A350s will be cancelled one by one, while Qatar Airways refuses to accept delivery owing to surface difficulties. Airbus and Qatar Airways have yet to comment on the third A350-900 cancellation as of this writing.