Qatar Airways seeks $618M from Airbus in dispute over A350s surface quality

Qatar Airways is seeking $618 million from European plane manufacturer Airbus in a dispute over surface deterioration on 21 A350s. 

According to London High Court documents seen by Reuters on January 6, 2022, Qatar Airways is requesting the sum as compensation for the grounding of 21 A350 wide-body passenger jets through December 17, 2021. The Doha-based carrier is also asking for an additional $4.2 million for each day the planes were removed from the flight roster. Additionally, Qatar Airways has asked the court to order the manufacturer to terminate any further aircraft deliveries until the defect is fixed. 

The dispute reached court in December 2021, when Qatar Airways initiated legal proceedings against Airbus, claiming that it had found surface and paint quality defects on 21 A350 aircraft. At the time, the airline revealed that attempts to reach a constructive solution with the manufacturer had failed.  

The issue with paint quality was first noticed by Qatar Airways in early January 2021, when an A350-900 plane, registered A7-ALL, was ferried to Shannon Airport (SNN) in Ireland and stripped of its original paint in preparation to be repainted in a special livery to celebrate the 2022 FIFA World Cup to be held in Qatar. However, once the paint was removed, the irregularities were found on the surface of the aircraft. The jet was sent to Airbus’ facility in Toulouse, France for a detailed inspection and repairs.  

At the time, the planemaker issued a statement to AeroTime stating that there was “no safety concern” and that the aircraft would be inspected as a precaution. “This is to do with the surface coating and not with any structural issue with the composites,” the manufacturer added.  

In August 2021, however, the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) grounded 13 Qatar Airways Airbus A350 aircraft over similar issues. The airline has since grounded 21 A350s. On December 9, 2021, Airbus accused Qatar Airways of misrepresenting the problem as a safety issue and said it would seek independent legal advice. 

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