Airbus and Qatar Airways faced each other in a UK court for the first time today since their public feud erupted.
The Qatari airline asked a UK judge to prevent the plane manufacturer from revoking an order for 50 A321neo jets.
The petition came as the carrier accused Airbus of cancelling the order as a “tactical move” to pressure Qatar Airways to drop its initial lawsuit.
Earlier this year, Airbus decided to halt both the A321neo and an order for two A350-100 planes in retaliation against Qatar Airways’ decision to file a $600m lawsuit over surface damages.
According to an Airbus spokesperson, the deal was terminated “in full compliance with [Airbus’s] rights.”
The lawsuit, whose compensation has now increased to more than $1bn, was filed after Qatar’s civil aviation authority forced the airline to ground its A350 fleet over damages to the planes’ surface, City A.M. reported.
After a few months of accusations thrown by each side, Airbus admitted it was not a cosmetic issue but insisted the damage was “well within” safety standards, noting that EU regulators didn’t ground any planes.
Qatar accused in court Airbus of moving the safety standards, while the plane maker said it was a “misrepresentation of the facts.”
The row has been watched by the industry with growing apprehension, as it could ruin relations between plane makers and their airline customers.
Former IAG boss Willie Walsh condemned the feud in late January, calling Airbus’s decision a “new and worrying development,” while an Airbus customer told Reuters today that both companies “need to get it out of the courtroom and find an agreement.”
The hearing comes a day after Airbus gained ground against Boeing, delivering three times more planes than its US rival.
According to data from Finbold, by the end of last year Airbus had delivered 1,376 planes – up 195.3 per cent on Airbus’s 466 deliveries.