As the row between Qatar Airways vs Airbus continues, Qatar’s flag carrier has released video footage showing the ‘airworthiness issues’ they have been experiencing with its A350 aircraft.
In a statement accompanying the video, Qatar Airways said: “As this video clearly shows, these defects are not superficial and one of the defects causes the aircraft’s lightning protection system to be exposed and damaged, another defect leaves the underlying composite structure exposed to moisture and ultraviolet light, and other defects include cracking in the composite and damage around a high percentage of rivets on the aircraft fuselage.”
The video was released on January 21, 2022, a day after Airbus announced that it is terminating a separate contract to deliver 50 Airbus A321neo aircraft ordered by Qatar Airways. Airbus’ move is not only expected to widen the long-standing rift with Qatar Airways, but will also put pressure on the airline as Qatar prepares to host the World Cup soccer event in November 2022.
In response to the manufacturer’s decision to terminate contracts for the Airbus A321neo, Qatar Airway said: “We confirm that we are adhering to all of our obligations under all applicable contracts. It is therefore a matter of considerable regret and frustration that Airbus has taken the apparent decision to expand and escalate this dispute.”
“We continue to urge Airbus to undertake a satisfactory root cause analysis into the cause of the defects, as it is required to do,” the airline added.
News of Airbus’ decision to terminate the A321neo aircraft orders also came a day after an expedited court hearing initiated by Qatar Airways at the Technology & Construction division of the High Court in England.
Qatar Airways said that it sought the hearing “to address our serious and legitimate safety concerns regarding the surface degradation condition adversely impacting our Airbus A350 fleet which has resulted so far in 21 Airbus A350 aircraft being grounded”.
A report by Bloomberg news said that Airbus will contend that Qatar Airways “sought to engineer or has acquiesced” in the A350 groundings because it’s in the airline’s interest to keep its planes idle “given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic” on demand.
Referring to video footage, Qatar Airways said: “We welcome the decision of the court to expedite this issue and order a hearing in April in an effort to bring about a more rapid resolution to the dispute.”
The airline also said that all affected aircraft will remain grounded and that they are unable to accept delivery of further aircraft tendered for delivery by Airbus.