Qatar Airways calls Airbus’ decision “a matter of significant regret and frustration” amid a paint peeling litigation.
Airbus has canceled a $6 billion contract with Qatar Airways for 50 of its new A321neo passenger aircraft, escalating a legal dispute between the two companies over the livery of the recently delivered A350.
Qatar Airways called Airbus’ decision, announced on Friday, “a matter of considerable regret and frustration”.
In December, Airbus was taken to court by Qatar Airways in London over a series of alleged problems with the Airbus A350 aircraft.
The airline complained that the paint on recently delivered Airbus A350s was cracking and peeling, exposing the copper mesh used to insulate the plane against lightning strikes.
It is demanding more than $600 million in compensation after the affected plane – 21 of its 53 A350 jets – was grounded and claims the paint issue is a safety risk.
The deal was Reportedly worth $6.35 billion when it was completed in December 2017.
Qatar Airways posted a video of the scarred exterior of grounded A350 jets on social media on Friday, which the airline said underscored “serious and legitimate safety concerns”.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency independently reviewed the issue and found no safety concerns.
“There is no reasonable or rational basis” for Qatari regulators to ground the A350s operated by Qatar Airways, Airbus said in documents prepared for a court hearing in London on Thursday.
She accused Qatar Airways of instigating the grounding as it was in their own financial interest to ground the plane amid the slump in demand for air travel caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Qatar Airways denied the allegations in a statement on Friday.
“These defects are not superficial and one of the defects results in exposure and damage to the aircraft’s lightning protection system,” it said. “We continue to request Airbus to conduct a satisfactory root cause analysis of the cause of the failure.”
An investigation Reuters news agency revealed that at least five other airlines have reported A350 paintwork or skin defects since 2016, well before Qatar raised concerns in November 2020 when an attempt to repaint a jet in World Cup livery uncovered about 980 defects.
Airbus has announced that it will change the lightning protection net design for future A350s, but insisted that adequate additional lightning protection is in place. It states that Qatar is undermining global protocols by pressuring security.