Qatar Airways has axed orders for four A350s because of delivery delays, Airbus said on Thursday, handing the European planemaker a new headache over what to do with jets worth $1.2 billion at list prices as it tries to close a sales gap with rival Boeing.
The decision means Airbus will have to try to resell or reallocate the 283-seat jets at a time when demand for big planes is softening, and could cost Airbus $60-80 million to rip out and replace interiors designed to fit the airline's plush brand.
"Smart players are not going to rush in, because other cancellations or deferrals may come," said veteran aircraft financier Bertrand Grabowski, former board member at DVB Bank.
The cancellation follows concerns about delays and quality problems on cabin equipment for the A350, but also comes at a time when Qatar is entering the second month of a crisis caused by a ban on Qatar's use of the airspace of four Arab nations.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker said earlier any delays were the planemaker's responsibility.
"We are asking Airbus to deliver it faster," he told a Dublin news conference. "The delay is from Airbus."