What still makes me wonder why an apparently smallish maintenance / wear issue went so stellar. I´m still at a loss what is in for QR to win in this whole discussion other than to try to pressure Airbus [and probably down the line Boeing, too] into much more favorable terms overall. It seems like an excessivly high-stake game they have initiated, if willingly or by accident doesn´t really matter anymore.
For me this has nothing to do with the actual technical part anymore, this is about power play and who´s going to have the upper hand longer term.
I think there are two facets to this issue.
In the short-term, with Covid still raging across the globe and travel demand (especially long haul intl travel) being very low, QR gains as follows:
- low demand means they can afford to lose the operability of the frames that have been grounded so far
- they then turn this into an airworthiness issue to extract damages from Airbus for the time the planes are out of service
- they may be able to lease CX planes for less than the payments on some of their A350s which they are trying to get covered by Airbus
- they use the airworthiness issue as a reason not to take delivery of new frames thereby deferring payments to Airbus and storage for frames they don't need right now
In the long-term, QR gains IF:
- they can get ANY financial concessions from Airbus in this process at all
- they can get long-term maintenance guarantees well past the warranty period from Airbus on their A350 fleet
- they can get an idea for how likely such a strategy would be if employed against Boeing
To me, the downsides of this caper to QR are pretty low with the only REAL downside being that both OEMs could refuse to sell them aircraft, which I highly doubt could ever happen. So QR has nothing or very little to lose and a lot of potential upside. In the short-term, I think it is best to think of this as an attempt to right-size their fleet to Covid conditions at an OEMs expense. Which is also why I expect Airbus will go to the end of the world to make sure this is as expensive as possible for QR.