Qatar Airways is seeking at least $618 million in compensation from European aircraft manufacturer Airbus in a dispute over a paint defect that is present on some A350 aircraft according to new court documents published on Thursday and seen by Reuters.
The Doha-based airline has grounded 21 of its 53 Airbus A350 aircraft on the orders of Qatar’s national civil aviation regulator citing airworthiness concerns originating from the paint defect.
Along with the $610 million lump sum, Qatar Airways is also seeking a further $4 million in damages for every additional day that the aircraft remain grounded. Qatar Airways insists that Airbus has failed to establish the root cause of the problem and that the jets will remain in storage until the airframer presents a permanent solution.
The dispute between the two sides has been rumbling on for months but suddenly intensified last month when Airbus first threatened legal action against an unnamed customer.
Qatar Airways promptly responded to the threat by bringing legal action against Airbus in London’s High Court.
A spokesperson for Airbus told Reuters on Thursday that the company would “deny in total” the lawsuit.
The same paintwork defect has afflicted several other A350 operators including Cathay Pacific, Delta Air Lines, Finnair and Lufthansa. No other airline has grounded any of its A350’s over the issue and the European Air Safety Agency insists that the problem does not represent an airworthiness issue.
Qatar Airways discovered the issue when it sent one of its A350’s to be painted in a special FIFA World Cup 2022 livery. Engineers found that paint was peeling, bubbling and cracking in certain areas of the aircraft fuselage. In some cases, the paint had been stripped away to expose a special lightning protection layer.
Airbus says it has suggested several solutions but Qatar Airways have rejected those ideas.
Qatar Airways says it brought the legal action because it had “sadly failed in all our attempts to reach a constructive solution with Airbus in relation to the accelerated surface degradation condition adversely impacting the Airbus A350 aircraft”.
“Qatar Airways has therefore been left with no alternative but to seek a rapid solution of this dispute via the courts”.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.