Qatar Airways' decision to take delivery of a batch of finished Airbus A350-900s does not amount to a decision to reinstate cancelled orders, FlightGlobal understands.
While Airbus disclosed, during a third-quarter briefing, that it had reached an agreement with the carrier to take four finished aircraft after Qatar cancelled four delivery slots earlier this year.
The cancellation had been revealed in Airbus's backlog figures for June, when Qatar's order for A350s was cut from 80 to 76 aircraft.
Qatar's revised order comprised 39 A350-900s – down from 43 – and 37 A350-1000s.
Airbus chief financial officer Harald Wilhelm stated, during the 31 October briefing, that Qatar had agreed to continue taking delivery of four associated aircraft in Airbus's inventory by the end of this year.
Three of the aircraft had already been delivered during October, he added.
But crucially Wilhelm, referring to the earlier cancellation of Qatar's four delivery slots, said: "Those four slots remain cancelled."
FlightGlobal understands, from a source familiar with the deal, that Qatar's delivery agreement does not restore the order for 80 A350s, but simply shifts the cancelled airframes to the end of the delivery cycle – which means the carrier will still only receive 76 aircraft.
Airbus delivered 148 aircraft over the third quarter including 20 A350s, taking its total A350 deliveries to 50 for the first nine months.
Qatar Airways had complained at the beginning of the year that delays in A350 production had been holding up route expansion.
While the subsequent refusal to take delivery of completed aircraft appeared to contradict this claim, Qatar Airways' slot cancellation in June emerged in the same month that several Gulf states cut trade ties with Qatar and banned the airline from operating to their territories.
Qatar's original order for 80 A350s comprised 20 A350-800s, 40 A350-900s and 20 A350-1000s. But the airline opted in 2012 to convert the entire -800 complement to three -900s and 17 -1000s.