Qatar Airways is not backing down in an increasingly acrimonious row with Airbus over flaws to the surface of A350 jets. In a fresh statement, the Gulf carrier said it is ready to go to trial.
Qatar’s civil aviation authority has grounded the airline’s A350 fleet over the surface degradation and Qatar Airways has refused to take further deliveries of A350s. In response Airbus has canceled A321 aircraft that Qatar Airways has ordered. The two have resorted to legal action in the row.
The High Court in London ruled on May 26, 2022, that the matter will be brought to trial in the summer of 2023 under an expedited process.
In initial comments, Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar al Baker said he hoped the dispute could be resolved out of court, with Airbus also saying it preferred an amicable solution.
But in its first full media statement on the case, made on May 31, 2022, Qatar Airways said it was ready to go to court.
“Qatar Airways is ready to see this matter through to trial to ensure that its rights are protected and that Airbus is required to address an unprecedented and extremely unique and concerning defect impacting the A350 aircraft type, across the industry and multiple carriers,” the airline declared.
Ahead of the trial, Qatar Airways said it will receive “full disclosure on the details of the accelerated surface degradation condition from Airbus for the first time.”
“The required early disclosure from Airbus will give us an insight into the true nature of surface degradation affecting the A350s,” it added.
The Doha-based airline said it was pleased that the judge’s findings showed that the surface degradation had no simple fix and any patching up would treat only the symptoms and not the underlying condition.
Qatar Airways noted that Airbus says the issue is a paint condition related to the fact the A350 fuselage is made of composite construction. “However, Qatar Airways operates many other aircraft which incorporate composite elements and to date have no evidence of any such condition,” the carrier said.
Qatar Airways said it did not usually issue “detailed media statements” but felt it was in the interests of its customers and the industry to do so.
The carrier also said it was “extremely concerned” about the precedent being set by Airbus in canceling the A321 contract.
“Qatar Airways remains within its contractual rights to reject delivery of further A350 aircraft whilst the aircraft type suffers from a design defect which has now been acknowledged by the court, and for Airbus to abuse its strength in the market to terminate a separate and unrelated contract for another aircraft type is extremely damaging for our industry,” the airline said.