By Tim Hepher and Federica Mileo
PARIS (Reuters) - European planemaker Airbus narrowed a jetliner delivery gap compared with last year after a sharp increase in February and turned the page on a major legal dispute with Qatar Airways by reinstating billions of dollars of plane orders.
The world's largest planemaker said on Tuesday it had handed 46 jets to customers in February, more than twice the 20 jets which had marked a disappointing start to the year in January.
Deliveries for the first two months reached 66 jets, down 13 from a year earlier.
The partial rebound came as industry sources said Airbus had embarked on a third wave of delivery delay notices to some airlines and lessors as the industry worldwide wrestles with supplier problems. Airbus declined to comment on customer talks.
Bloomberg News reported last week that Airbus had also warned customers of delays to its future A321XLR long-range single-aisle jet.
Reuters reported last month that Chief Executive Guillaume Faury had told executives that weak deliveries in January were a "wake-up call".
Airbus has blamed mounting delays on suppliers led by engine makers, but industry sources have said internal operational performance and controls are also under scrutiny.
Fragile points include cabins, A220 cockpits, some A320 fuselage shells and worries over steel capacity, they said. Problems in recruiting workers in North America have also hit the A220, one industry executive told Reuters.
Airbus delivered seven small A220 single-aisle jets in January and February, compared with what suppliers describe as a production rate of seven a month, rising to 14 in late 2025.
"This remains a relatively soft start for the year in terms of (overall) deliveries, highlighting the tough comparison base Airbus will face in the first quarter," Jefferies analyst Chloe Lemarie said in a note.
Industry sources have previously said Airbus is informally targeting deliveries close to 140 in the first quarter, compared with 142 physical deliveries in the first quarter of last year, or 140 after a Russia sanctions-related adjustment.
Airbus meanwhile also said on Tuesday it had reinstated orders for 73 aircraft from Qatar Airways after revoking them during a dispute over damage to the surface of grounded A350s.
Airbus and Qatar Airways settled the dispute at the end of January, averting a rare and potentially damaging UK court trial in the jet sector. Speaking in Berlin, Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker called the settlement a "win-win".
Including the resumption of business with Qatar, Airbus said it had booked 136 orders in the first two months of the year or a net total of 124 after 12 cancellations or conversions.
Airbus data showed these adjustments included 10 A320neo-family jets transferred to British Airways from parent IAG.
(Reporting by Tim Hepher and Federica Mileo; Editing by Josie Kao)