Airbus, Qatar Airways Settle Dispute Over Grounded Jets
Airbus and Qatar Airways have reached an “amicable settlement” in their ongoing dispute over the grounded Airbus A350 jets. The two companies had been feuding for nearly two years over US$2 billion worth of surface damage on the long-haul jets. The row had led to the cancellation of orders for 23 undelivered A350s and 50 smaller A321neos. It also prompted Qatar Airways to increase its purchases from Boeing.
The legal dispute, which was scheduled to go to trial in the UK in June 2023, has now been settled out of court. Both parties have released a statement saying that they have reached an "amicable and mutually agreeable settlement" and that the details of the settlement are confidential. The statement also notes that the settlement is not an admission of liability for either party and that they will be discontinuing their legal claims.
The conflict between the two companies started in late 2022 when Airbus changed the design of its A350 passenger jet due to the dispute with Qatar Airways, as reported by MBN. Qatar Airways had filed a lawsuit against Airbus, alleging that the surface damage on its A350 jets was due to design flaws in the aircraft. Airbus, on the other hand, insisted that the jets were safe and accused the airline of exaggerating the flaws.
The settlement between Airbus and Qatar Airways will see the reinstated orders for the previously cancelled A350s and A321neos. This will add a backlog of 50 A321neos and 23 Airbus A350s to the order book, and deliveries to the airline will begin again soon.
Despite the amicable resolution, both companies have suffered reputational damage from the legal dispute, reports SimpleFlying. Questions of influence over regulators have served to tarnish trust in these companies. However, with the legal case now closed, both parties can move forward as partners.
Qatar Airways has 53 A350s in its fleet, including 19 of the larger -1000 and 34 of the -900 variant. Twenty-two of these aircraft are currently grounded due to paintwork damage. The airline will want to see these airplanes repaired, presumably at a cost to Airbus, reports Reuters. Airbus has already been installing a new type of copper foil on some of its newly produced aircraft, which reduces paint cracking and weight.
The settlement between Airbus and Qatar Airways will enable both parties to move forward and work together as partners. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire welcomed the deal, which came in the wake of increasing political involvement amid close ties between France and Qatar. “It is the culmination of significant joint efforts. It is excellent news for the French aerospace industry,” he says.
Airbus is not the only planemaker facing paint issues. In November 2022, worldwide operators of Boeing 787 Dreamliners reported experiencing paint peeling issues on wing and horizontal stabilizer surfaces due to ultraviolet radiation exposure.
Currently, no Mexican airline operates Airbus’ A350 jets, with low-cost-carriers Viva Aerobus and Volaris operating A320s and A320neos.