Qatar Airways claims heavy compensation from Airbus

The legal saga between the European aircraft manufacturer and the airline Qatar Airways continues, Airbus having claimed 220 million dollars yesterday for non-payment of two A350 whose delivery was refused.

While no hearing is expected before the end of April at the High Court in London, no sign of appeasement has been made public by the two actors in the conflict started in December 2020 due to “paint problems” of the A350s. On March 1, 2022, Airbus asked judges to award it $220 million in damages for the Doha-based airline’s refusal to deliver two A350s. The aircraft manufacturer also plans to recover “millions of dollars in credits” granted to Qatar Airways, documents released yesterday show. The latter had already requested 618 million dollars in damages for the grounding of its A350s affected by the problem, plus 4 million per day of additional immobilization. Airbus, as usual, did not comment on this information.

Last week, Qatar Airways went to court to request the reinstatement of the order for 50 A321neo (including ten in LR version) expected from February 2023, an order canceled by Airbus at the end of January. These lawyers then declared that “neither Qatar Airways nor its legal team are aware of any efforts made by Airbus to try to resolve the situation amicably. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.” On Monday, an Airbus spokesperson told Reuters the damages claim was a “last resort and followed numerous unsuccessful attempts to find mutually beneficial solutions”.

Remember that the dispute has led Qatar Airways to ground 22 A350-900s and -1000s since last August and an order from the Qatari regulator. For fear of running out of capacity, particularly for the Football World Cup and the reception of expected visitors, it has put thirteen A330s back into service, leased wide-body aircraft and brought out the A380s, which its boss has criticized so much in recent months.

Airbus has denied all charges by Qatar Airways, saying there is “no reasonable or rational basis” for the flight ban; on the contrary, the airline would have “sought to organize or acquiesced” in the decision to ground the planes because it was in its economic interest to do so “in view of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic”. Airbus still claims that the paint defects are only a cosmetic problem that does not justify the grounding of the A350s or the refusal of deliveries. The European regulator EASA did not consider the deterioration of the surfaces of the A350 as a threat to flight safety, its Qatari counterpart remaining the only one in the world to have taken the measure.

Other customers have however noticed the problem, for example Finnair since 2016, followed since by Cathay Pacific, Etihad Airways, Lufthansa and Air France (as part of the maintenance of Air Caraïbes aircraft). The German company would in particular have returned three A350s to be repainted, free of charge under the warranty; but no operator other than Qatar Airways has grounded the affected A350s.

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