Airbus Seeks Counsel on Qatar A350 Spat
- Airbus is seeking outside legal counsel to settle its spat with Qatar Airways over what the Doha-based airline says is surface damage on its A350s. Qatar claims the damage renders the aircraft inoperable, a claim the airframer vigorously disputes. “The surface paint-related findings have been thoroughly assessed by Airbus and confirmed by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) as having no airworthiness impact on the A350 fleet,” Airbus said in a statement announcing that it is seeking legal advice. “The attempt by this customer to misrepresent this specific topic as an airworthiness issue represents a threat to the international protocols on safety matters,” adding, “Airbus is working to re-establish a constructive dialogue with its customer on this matter but is not willing to accept inaccurate statements of this kind to continue.”
- Latam Airlines Group has agreed to lease six Airbus A321neos from AerCap. The deal, which requires approval of a U.S. bankruptcy court, would boost Latam’s outstanding commitments for A320neo family jets to 76 aircraft. The airline has orders for 70 A320neo family, and two Boeing 787 aircraft. The airline did not disclose delivery dates.
- Private investment firm 777 Partners, which invests in and deploys aircraft to low-cost carriers, has ordered 30 additional Boeing 737 Max jets, including the high-density 737-8200 variant. The order brings the company’s Max commitments to 68 with eight already having been delivered to Flair Airlines. Boeing says the additional order is worth $3.7 billion at list prices. “We have long been confident in the economics of the 737 Max family, but we are especially excited about the 737-8200 variant, which represents the bulk of our additional orders,” 777 Partners Managing Director Josh Wander said in a statement announcing the deal.
Separate from the order, Australian startup Bonza confirmed that it will lease up to eight 737-8s in its first year from 777 Partners, which is also an investor in the airline. Bonza aims to begin carrying passengers in 2022.
- U.S. regional Mesa Air Group‘s cargo operation for DHL isn’t growing as fast as it expected. Mesa has three Boeing 737 freighters, but it needs to get up to 8-10 for the operation to be sustainable, CEO Jonathan Ornstein said without providing a timeline for when that may occur. Mesa is touting the 737s, and its investment in Heart Aerospace’s electric regional jets, as a pathway for pilots to enter the industry. That was the gloss on a difficult quarter for the regional, which reported a $7.5 million net loss in its fiscal fourth quarter, mainly due to $9 million in heavy maintenance costs. “Who would have thought coming out of Covid would be harder than going into it,” Ornstein asked.
- Southwest Airlines has exercised another 14 options for the 737 Max, which brings its total firm commitments for the type to 413 aircraft. The carrier will take the additional aircraft, all 737-7s, in 2023.
- Air Canada‘s pressed its first Boeing 767-300ER freighter into earlier than the carrier had expected, given immense demand for cargo, the carrier said. The freighter originally was expected to fly between Toronto and Frankfurt for the rest of the year, but Air Canada redeployed it on routes to Vancouver to meet demand. The aircraft entered the fleet so early that it started flying without its Air Canada livery.
- Airbus reported 58 deliveries to 34 airlines and lessors in November, for a total so far this year of 518 deliveries to 80 customers. Fueled by the Dubai Airshow order frenzy, the airframer reported 318 orders for the month.
- KLM Cityhopper took delivery of two more Embraer E195 E2s from lessor Aircastle as part of its original order for 15 of the type. The new jets are fitted with Pratt & Whitney PW1921G geared turbofans. Meanwhile, lessor CDB Aviation delivered its first Airbus A320 to Allegiant. The aircraft is configured with 186 coach seats, the lessor said. And staying with lessors (and Neos), Air Lease Corp. has delivered the first of two A321neos to Japan’s Peach Aviation. The aircraft are the long-range variant, the lessor said.
— Madhu Unnikrishnan