Moscow Arbitration Court orders Airbus to pay $5.1 million over unconsummated Aeroflot A350 contract.

The Arbitration Court of Moscow demanded $5.1 million in unjust enrichment from global aircraft manufacturing giant Airbus S.A.S. on Wednesday. The charge is related to a preliminary contract for the provision of seventeen A350 aircraft to Russia's flagship carrier, Aeroflot. The claim, originating from Aviacapital-Service, a leasing subsidiary of Rostec, was fully upheld by the court of first instance, Sputnik, a Russian news agency, reports.

Aviacapital-Service presented evidence to the court indicating that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed by both parties in December 2019, establishing the intent to finalize the main supply contract within a two-month period. A security deposit of $5.1 million was subsequently deposited by the Rostec subsidiary. The plaintiff argued that the lack of a concluded main contract warranted a return of the deposit, which they categorized as such, claiming that it received no services or benefits, making this transaction akin to a prohibited donation between legal entities.

Airbus, however, refuted the charge by stating that the contract was far from gratuitous, offering the plaintiff a multitude of favorable terms. The aircraft manufacturer cited benefits including the promised delivery of the first planes within two years, coupled with a substantial discount of up to 50% off the catalog price. Airbus further guaranteed a redundancy of production capabilities, illustrating that the procurement process for such significant assets, valued at approximately $300 million each, is not as straightforward as a conventional supermarket purchase, often necessitating buyers to join a waiting list.

Moreover, Airbus dismissed the notion of a deposit, asserting that the plaintiff did reap an economic benefit. The representative for Airbus also underscored their interest in this multi-billion-dollar contract, revealing that the MoU was extended twice. However, the anticipated deal collapsed due to Aeroflot's refusal to accept the aircraft.