Etihad chief executive Tony Douglas expressed confidence during the airline’s inaugural A350 flight on March 31, 2022, despite fuselage surface deterioration on some Airbus A350s, FlightGlobal reports. 

“We had a similar problem on the 787 when they got to three years old. We managed it together with Boeing,” Douglas said. “If we find ourselves over time with a similar challenge, I’m sure we will solve it without any kind of fuss or drama with Airbus.” 

The news comes just days after Etihad’s rival, Qatar Airways, claimed that paint cracks on the carrier’s several Airbus A350s could cause fuel tanks to ignite. According to a Bloomberg report, Qatar Airways has raised concerns that flaws on the surface of the A350 fuselage could attract pollutants, such as salt or hydraulic fluids, and damage the aircraft’s lightning protection.   

In late 2021, Qatar Airways sued Airbus over fuselage surface deterioration on its A350s, seeking more than $600 million in compensation. Qatar Airways, which has 53 A350s in its fleet, claims it had to remove a total of 22 aircraft from the flight roster.  

In retaliation, Airbus attempted to terminate a separate contract to deliver 50 A321neo aircraft that Qatar Airways had on order. However, this decision was frozen by a British court, pending the judge’s decision due in April 2022.   

In the court filing, Qatar Airways disclosed that Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Air France, and Finnair had reported the same issue with the aircraft.   

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Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker called on Airbus to admit that it had flaws on the surface of its A350 jets.