Qatar steps up the heat on A350 dispute

Qatar Airways is piling on the pressure to get an fast-track resolution of its dispute with Airbus over the degrading of the skin of its Airbus A350 fleet.

Qatar and Airbus are going head to head in the UK courts through the technology and construction division of the English High Court.

The airline claims that the degradation is adversely affecting its Airbus A350 fleet which has resulted so far in 21 Airbus A350 aircraft being grounded. It is seeking an expedited hearing of the preliminary issue potential safety grounds.

Airbus is arguing that the effect is superficial, can be repaired and has no impact on safe operations. There has been issues with several other airlines, but the European manufacturer said these have been repaired.

To support its arguments Qatar released a video to the media to demonstrate that defects are not superficial and said 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.

“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,” Qatar said in its statement.

“We continue to strongly believe that Airbus must undertake a thorough investigation of this condition to conclusively establish its full root cause in order to establish whether any proposed repair solution will rectify the underlying condition and ensure no risk to the continued airworthiness of the aircraft,” the statement said.

The relationship between the airline and the manufacturer has soured. As Qatar refused to accept delivery of further A350s Airbus has responded by allegedly seeking to cancel a separate contract for the delivery of 50 A321 Neo aircraft.

Qatar said It is a “matter of considerable regret and frustration that Airbus has taken the apparent decision to expand and escalate this dispute.”  

Alan Peaford

Alan Peaford MBE

Alan is a regular broadcaster and is the consultant editor-in-chief and presenter for Times Aerospace TV and is a regular commentator on aviation issues for many global broadcasting channels. He is conference chairman of the Aviation Africa summit and the Aviation MENA summit and has moderated or chaired conferences for organisations such as IATA, DCAA, the Global Aerospace Summit and business aviation associations in the Middle East, Africa and Europe.