File photo of an Airbus A321neo(ACF) in Qatar's livery. Image courtesy of Airbus.
The Airbus A320neo, a new jetliner capable of delivering superior fuel economics and lower costs per seat due to its fuel efficient-engines and aerodynamic enhancements, has quickly become one of the best-selling aircraft in history, with more than 5,000 aircraft ordered as of December 2017.
A Qatar Airbus A320neo without engines. This aircraft (MSN 6946) was later delivered to IndiGo after Qatar canceled the order. Image credit of Gyrostat (Wikimedia, CC-BY-SA 4.0)
However, when the A320neo entered commercial service almost two years ago, the birds powered by the Pratt & Whitney PW1000G series engines ran into serious incidents during the initial year of service. A lot of these engines have failed in-flight, prompting airlines to reduce the service ceiling to 30,000 fleet (which negates some of the cost savings by the engines, which are more fuel efficient at higher altitudes). Because of these issues, existing A320neo operators had their fleets grounded for long periods of time.
Qatar Airways, the original launch customer of the A320neo, refused to take many of the early-build aircraft that were plagued with the Pratt & Whitney engine issues. In July 2016, they began canceling some of the deliveries outright. After four cancellations, they currently still have 30 A320neo and 16 A321neo aircraft in Airbus' order book, accounting for 46 out of some 5,000 orders. After these cancellations, it wasn't clear if Qatar will take up any of the A320neos that they ordered. Furthermore, some sources were reporting that Qatar was starting talks with Boeing about purchasing variants of the Boeing 737 MAX. In the first quarter of 2017, Airbus announced that it was working with Qatar to "upsize" the order by adding up to 50 A321neos, with 36 options. Well, almost a year later, Airbus has announced that it has reached an agreement with Qatar on the previously announced deal. This new deal will exclusively of 50 Airbus A321neo(ACF) aircraft and 36 options, with the "Airbus Cabin Flex" layout and overwing emergency exit doors that allow it to have a maximum capacity of 240 passengers. According to FlightGlobal, "Airbus has not confirmed whether Qatar Airways has switched to the rival CFM International Leap-1A powerplant – although an illustration accompanying its disclosure of the order features the Leap-powered variant." Qatar's original A320neo orders were powered by the PW1000G engine. They will begin to take delivery of these aircraft in 2019, three years after Qatar's first A320neo was supposed to be delivered. Furthermore, Airbus values this order at $6.35 billion, before the customary discounts provided to airlines.