Qatar Planes on Tarmac © Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways is the first airline to use the system © Qatar Airways

According to a UK court document, a provisional agreement for Qatar Airways to purchase up to 50 Boeing 737 Max jets has lapsed. 

A deal gone sideways?

The deal between the American aerospace manufacturer and Qatar’s flag carrier was signed in Washington in January and was a part of a series of inter-locking agreements caught up in a London court dispute between European aerospace manufacturer Airbus and Qatar Airways over a larger aircraft. 

Airbus then requested a copy of the agreement between the Gulf carrier regarding the Boeing 737 Max, after the airline brought the matter up as part of its bid for compensation for damage to its Airbus A350. 

Qatar Airways’ initial reaction was to resist the request, citing that the provisional Boeing deal had actually “expired”, according to Airbus in a summary of arguments presented ahead of a UK court hearing. 

Qatar Airways itself made no reference to the Boeing 737 Max deal in its preprepared documents and written arguments and therefore had no immediate comment. At the time of writing, Boeing declined to make comment on the issue. 

Boeing 737 Max
Boeing could be forced to cancel its 737 Max 10 unless they are given exception from safety requirements. | © Lindsey Wasson / Reuters

An individual familiar with the case described the despite over the disclosure of the document as a “red herring” as Airbus and Qatar Airways barrel towards a trial on the core A350 dispute. 

Boeing has a deadline of December to win concrete approval for the 737 Max or risks facing new further constraints, prompting the manufacturer to state this Thursday that its largest version of the Max could be scrapped. 

Separately, industry sources state the provisional contracts of the kind that was signed between Qatar Airways and Boeing are usually valid for a finite period but are flexible in that the agreement can also be reviewed or superseded by more formal and concrete negotiations depending on the intentions of the manufacturer and the buyer. 

The expiration of a provisional contract therefore does not suggest that the entire deal will collapse. 

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