The already intense legal tussle between Qatar Airways (QR, Doha Hamad International) and Airbus (AIB, Toulouse Blagnac) over A350-related technical issues and the cancellation of an A321-200neo deal has intensified after the European manufacturer filed a counter-claim demanding USD220 million in damages from the airline.

Reuters reports that Airbus is seeking damages in relation to the two A350-1000s that it built for Qatar Airways which it has refused to take until the dispute is solved. Airbus said this constituted a default in its contractual obligation and subsequently cancelled the order for these two widebodies. The manufacturer is also seeking to recover "millions of dollars" in credit lines awarded to Qatar Airways.

Meanwhile, Qatar Airways has requested the London High Court to order Airbus to reinstate the order for fifty A321-200neo (forty A321-200Ns and ten A321-200NX(LR)s) unilaterally axed by the manufacturer. The airline argues that Airbus had no right to terminate an order towards which Qatar Airways had already paid USD330 million in pre-delivery payments. The airline stressed in its filing that the A321neo was a "unique" model, and it would not be able to secure any alternative type to replace the orders cancelled by Airbus.

In January 2022, the court told Airbus to delay any "practical effects" of the cancellations - such as the reallocation of production slots to other airlines - pending a substantive hearing scheduled for April 4, 2022.

The unprecedented legal brawl between the two parties began in mid-2021 when the Qatari Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) grounded sixteen Qatar Airways A350-900s and five -1000s due to fuselage paint degradation. Airbus has acknowledged the issue but argues that it is not an airworthiness problem. In December 2021, Qatar Airways filed a lawsuit against Airbus, seeking USD618 million in damages (the amount has since grown as it is calculated on a per-diem basis). The airline revealed that in February, the regulator grounded another of its A350s.

Although Airbus Chief Executive Guillaume Faury said during an annual investor call that the manufacturer made "many attempts to find mutually beneficial solutions" and continued to "hope for an amicable solution", Qatar Airways dismissed these claims in its statement.

"Neither Qatar Airways nor its legal team are aware of any efforts by Airbus to try to resolve the situation in an amicable way; in fact, the actual situation is to the contrary," the Qatari airline said.