Qatar Airways announced on December 20, 2021, that it started legal proceedings against Airbus in a UK court to resolve a dispute over the deterioration of the A350 fuselage surface.  

“We have sadly failed in all our attempts to reach a constructive solution with Airbus in relation to the accelerated surface degradation condition adversely impacting the Airbus A350 aircraft,” the Doha-based airline said in a statement. “Qatar Airways has therefore been left with no alternative but to seek a rapid resolution of this dispute via the courts.” 

Airbus confirmed it had received a legal claim in a British court filed by Qatar Airways. “Airbus is in the process of analyzing the contents of the claim,” the manufacturer said in a statement. 

The earliest report of the issue dates back to the start of January 2021. A Qatar Airways Airbus A350-900 registered A7-ALL was ferried to Shannon Airport (SNN) in Ireland, where it was stripped of its original paint as it was about to be repainted in a special livery to celebrate the 2022 FIFA World Cup to be held in Qatar. However, the aircraft presented irregularities on its surface. 

When AeroTime contacted Airbus at the time, the plane maker said that there was “no safety concern” and that the aircraft would be inspected in Toulouse, France, as a precaution. “This is to do with the surface coating and not with any structural issue with the composites,” the manufacturer said in a statement to AeroTime.  

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The cracks found on a Qatar Airways A350 as it was about to be repainted were not structural and only affected the surface coating, according to Airbus.
 

In August 2021 however, the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) grounded 13 of Qatar Airways’ Airbus A350 aircraft over similar issues. The airline has since grounded 21 of these aircraft. On December 9, 2021, Airbus accused its customer of misrepresenting the problem as a safety issue and said it would seek independent legal advice. 

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Airbus has turned up the stakes as it calls for independent legal advice over the months-long dispute with a customer about the A350 aircraft