Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury has indicated that the European planemaker could sue airline customers for breaking contracts and refusing to accept aircraft deliveries.
In an interview with Politico, Mr Faury said that lawsuits “will happen” if airlines are fully defaulting and “not proposing something better than nothing, or are not willing to do it”.
Airlines have been slammed by the coronavirus crisis and many are requesting deferrals on deliveries from manufacturers and lessors. A number of carriers have also cancelled orders.
Mr Faury said in the interview that some airlines had refused to take calls but added that he hoped for a compromise.
Airbus made no immediate comment.
Airbus delivered 24 aircraft in May, which was a partial recovery on April but still well below normal levels. Although it received no cancellations last month, the company also secured no new orders as the airline industry continues to reel beneath the weight of coronavirus.
Airbus is reported to have sent “dozens” of default notices to airlines, with some carriers reacting angrily, according to sources cited by Reuters.
Last month, the manufacturer placed six jets up for auction after the customer they were intended for, AirAsia, decided not to take the aircraft.
Of Airbus’ 24 deliveries last month, six went to Indian budget airline IndiGo, which is one of the few airlines ploughing ahead with its order plans in spite of the crisis.
IndiGo is Airbus’ largest A320 customer. Chief executive Ronojoy Dutta said last week that the airline still plans to replace its entire fleet of 120 jets for newer, more efficient A320neo’s.