Qatar Airways CEO expects to ground more A350s: SCMP

Jaromir Chalabala /

The row between Qatar Airways and Airbus shows no signs of letting up.  

The carrier’s chief executive told the South China Morning Post that Qatar Airways is expecting to ground more Airbus A350s over a paint issue and is planning to lease more aircraft to make up for the groundings.  

Akbar Al Baker also told the paper in an interview published on December 14, 2021, that it would be difficult to rebuild the business relationship with manufacturer Airbus. 

“We can always let the water pass under the bridge and move on,” Al Baker was quoted as saying by the SCMP. “With Airbus, the damage is very severe. I don’t know how we will be able to work with them again. 

“How would you expect me to ever do business again with a company that doesn’t care about the customer at all? It only cares about its financial statements and bottom line.” 

The dispute between Qatar Airways and Airbus over the paint issue has become increasingly acrimonious. Airbus said on December 9, 2021 that it was seeking independent legal advice over the matter, which it described as a “non-structural surface degradation”. 

According to the paper, Al Baker described the Airbus remarks as “derogatory”.  

SCMP said Qatar Airways has grounded at least 21 of its 53 Airbus A350s on the orders of its national aviation regulator. The airline currently has 18 A350-900s and 14 A350-1000s in operation, according to Cirium data. 

“At the moment we are looking at the number of aircraft that are grounded. We will have a cushion with additional aeroplanes just in case our regulator decides to pull the airworthiness review certificate of additional aeroplanes,” Al Baker was quoted as saying. 

Qatar Airways is therefore considering how many aircraft it will need to lease to make up for lost capacity. At least four Boeing 777s will come from Cathay Pacific, the SCMP reported, adding that Qatar Airways was keen to add additional 777s from the carrier.  

The row over the A350s has also meant Al Baker has ruled out ordering the freighter variant of the jet.   

“I was looking very positively at freighters. But they have destroyed that relationship,” Al Baker said. “I don’t think that they will ever get a single size of order that we would have placed for the freighter.” 


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