One of the highest-stakes legal imbroglios that have rocked the aviation industry of late seems to have finally reached a peaceful conclusion.
In a note made public on February 1, 2023, Airbus announced the end of its legal dispute with Qatar Airways, stating that the two parties had reached an “amicable and mutually agreeable settlement” that “is not an admission of liability for either party”. The exact terms of the agreement remain confidential.
This long-going saga started towards the end of 2020 when Qatar Airways complained that it had detected cracks in the paint of some of its newly acquired A350 aircraft and subsequently grounded part of its fleet. Airbus rejected all allegations that safety could have been compromised due to this issue.
Qatar Airways had 53 Airbus A350 aircraft (34 of the –900 version and 19 of the –1000 one), in its fleet, plus outstanding orders for 19 more of the type when this conflict erupted.
What followed were months of very public wrangling and a lawsuit, with the matter expected to be resolved at London’s High Court.
A preliminary court hearing took place in London on January 19, 2023, where it became known that Airbus had implemented some design changes affecting parts of its production process, allegedly in response to the concerns about this matter.
Airbus’ note further states that the airline and aircraft manufacturer are working together on a repair program to get the affected aircraft back in the air.
Interestingly, the wording of the announcement hints at the fact that Airbus and Qatar Airways may get back to working together in the future.
It is worth noting that, as a result of this dispute, Airbus had unilaterally canceled Qatar Airways’ all outstanding aircraft orders, including for 50 A321neo aircraft, forcing the airline to look for alternatives at short notice in order to stick to its planned growth program.