Airbus delivers Airspace A320neo to SWISS; cancels Qatar A321neo order as legal dispute continues

371 plane maker Airbus announced that SWISS has taken delivery of its first Airbus A320neo featuring the new Airspace cabin configuration. The manufacturer also confirmed it has cancelled an order from Qatar Airways for 50 A321neo jets the airline plans to use for new routes as the legal dispute between the two companies continues in a London court.

(PHOTO: Airbus)

Airbus said the new Airspace cabin features include: slimmer sidewall panels for extra personal space at shoulder level; better views through the windows with their redesigned bezels and completely integrated window shades; the largest overhead bins for 60 percent more bags; the latest full LED lighting technologies; LED-lit ‘entrance area’; and new lavatories with hygienic touch-less features and antimicrobial surfaces.

SWISS is a long standing Airbus customer, operating Airbus A220 and A320 family aircraft on its European network and in addition A330s and A340s globally. In 2018 Lufthansa Group, the parent company of SWISS, chose to equip more than 80 of its new A320 Family aircraft on order from Airbus with Airspace cabins. At the end of December 2021, the A320neo family had received nearly 7,900 orders from over 120 customers worldwide.

Qatar order revoked

(PHOTO: Qatar)

Airbus said on 20 January that it has cancelled a contract for 50 A321neo jets on order by Qatar Airways as the two companies continue to fight a court battle over A350 jets Qatar says it has been forced to ground for surface problems. Qatar said its national regulator has classified the issue as a safety hazard while Airbus disputes that. Airbus revealed it was walking away from the A321neo deal in court arguments presented during a scheduling session over the A350 dispute at a division of Britain’s High Court. “We confirm we did terminate the contract for 50 A321s with Qatar Airways in accordance with our rights,” an Airbus spokesman said following a filing setting out provisional arguments, reported earlier by Bloomberg News.

Qatar Airways is expected to fight the A321neo contract’s termination, having said it plans to take delivery of the jets even though it is refusing to take more A350s until a dispute over surface erosion on the larger planes has been resolved. The airline said in a court filing that it was “working through the practical consequences” of the A321 decision, adding that Airbus was not entitled to declare a “cross-default” on the basis of Qatar’s refusal to take more A350s in the main dispute. The A321neo deal was from an order 10 years ago worth $4.6 billion at list prices. Qatar’s first A321neo is due to be delivered in February 2023, according to the airline filing. Industry experts say that particular model can easily be resold by Airbus since smaller jets are more in use now than the twin-aisle A350 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Qatar Airways is seeking US$618 million in compensation for 21 grounded A350s plus US$4 million a day as the row drags on. The A321 development could increase that claim. The Gulf carrier is also asking British judges to order France-based Airbus not to attempt to deliver any more of the jets until what it describes as a design defect has been fixed. Airbus has said it will “deny in total” the complaint and has accused Qatar Airways, once one of its most highly courted customers, of mislabelling the problem as a safety concern.

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