Qatar Airways files suit against Airbus over A350 damage dispute

PARIS, Dec.20 (Reuters) – Qatar Airways announced on Monday that it has initiated proceedings in a UK court against aircraft manufacturer Airbus (AIR.PA) to resolve a dispute over skin defects on A350 airliners, bringing the two sides together in a rare legal showdown on aviation safety.

Businesses have been stranded for months in a row over damage including puffy paint and corrosion from a lightning protection underlayment, which Qatar Airways says has now led to the downtime of 21 A350 jets by its national regulator.

Airbus insists carbon composite passenger jets can fly safely despite some “surface degradation”, while Qatar Airways says it is too early to say whether safety has been compromised.

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The dispute came to a head last week when Airbus, in what experts called an unprecedented move, accused the Gulf airline of portraying the issue as a safety issue and threatened to request an assessment. independent legal. Read more

Qatar Airways fired back on Monday, saying it had filed its complaint against Airbus in the High Court in London.

“We have unfortunately failed in all our attempts to reach a constructive solution with Airbus regarding the accelerated degradation conditions of the surface which have a negative impact on the Airbus A350 aircraft,” he said in a communicated. “Qatar Airways therefore has no choice but to seek a swift resolution of this dispute through the courts.”

In a statement released Monday evening, Airbus confirmed having received a formal legal complaint. “Airbus intends to vigorously defend its position,” he said.

A spokesperson reiterated earlier that he had found the cause of the problem and was working with customers and the European security regulator, who said he had not identified a security issue.

Qatar Airways denies that the surface defects – which witnesses say left some of the jets with a pockmarked appearance – are understood and said on Monday it wanted Airbus to conduct a “full investigation”. Read more


Several industry executives have said such a public legal battle between two of the major aviation players is unprecedented.

The line widened this month when documents viewed by Reuters revealed that at least five other airlines in different climates had complained of paint problems or other surface issues since 2016. Airbus had until recently maintained that the issue focused on the painting of Qatar’s Gulf-based A350s.

Reuters also reported for the first time that Airbus was considering changing the anti-lightning system. Read more

The aircraft maker said it was offering interim solutions ranging from repairs to painting and accused Qatar Airways of ignoring those proposals without reasonable justification.

Qatar Airways reiterated on Monday that it could not be sure the proposed repairs would work without further analysis. Its chief executive asked why Airbus is still working on a solution if a reliable fix is ​​already available.

The 21 ground jets represent 40% of its current A350 fleet, for which it was the launch customer with the largest order. Other airlines still operate the jet, saying its airworthiness is unaffected by what they call cosmetic issues.

The dispute is expected to cost Airbus a large order in Qatar for a new cargo version of the A350. It received the model’s first firm order on Monday, confirming a previously provisional order for four planes from French CMA CGM.

Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker told the South China Morning Post last week that he had already considered placing a large order for the A350 freighter. Sources now expect Boeing to win the order to replace Qatar’s 34-35 freighters. Read more

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Reporting by Tim Hepher Editing by Mark Potter and Gerry Doyle

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