Qatar airways Airbus A350

Qatar, usually in the news nowadays due to the FIFA world cup 2022, is also at odds with Airbus over a skin degradation issue on its A350 aircraft which has revealed the inner lightening protection layer of the aircraft after the paint flakes off slowly.

Airbus’s ongoing dispute with Qatar Airways has it worried about the impact on the company’s image as the court cases related to the A350s carry on. The plane maker has been at odds with the Middle Eastern carrier regarding the paint degradation issues of the A350 aircraft. And in its latest financial statement, Airbus warned its investors about the potential impact the dispute could have on its balance sheet.

Airbus released its latest financial statement, which talks about the implications of its dispute with Qatar Airways could have. Indeed, the document released by the manufacturer does state the concern

According to Airbus, Qatar filed a lawsuit in December of last year, alleging a “design fault” and citing surface deterioration on several of its A350 aircraft. The list of claims the airline is requesting continues as follows:

  1. For aircraft that the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority has grounded Qatar airways seeks liquidated damages at $4 million per day!
  2. A court directive that Airbus must undertake a thorough root cause study for problems with surface degradation
  3. A court order prohibiting Airbus from giving Qatar Airways any more A350 aircraft until purported “design flaws” are fixed. 

Airbus, of course, has rejected Qatar’s claims, terming them as “mischaracterisation of the non-structural surface degradation.”

Naturally, Airbus has denied Qatar’s assertions, labelling them as a “mischaracterization of the non-structural surface damage”.

However, it is worried about how the trials, which start next year, may affect things. The manufacturer of the aircraft declared,

At this point, it is impossible to fully predict the effects of the case and the proceedings’ conclusion, but any judgement or decision that is unfavourable to the company might have a significant negative effect on its financial statements, operations, and reputation.

With each new chapter in the protracted drama of the A350 dispute, the animosity between Airbus and Qatar Airways grows. Airbus said in September that it has cancelled all of Qatar Airways’ remaining A350 orders. The airline still needs to get 19 A350-1000 orders.

After Airbus provided its monthly data, which showed that it had cancelled Qatar’s remaining unfulfilled A350-1000 order, the cancellation was made public. Many of these aircraft are now being stored in Toulouse despite having been constructed and making their initial flights.

Why was Boeing involved in the Airbus dispute?

Airbus wanted a look at Qatar’s Boeing 737 MAX contract earlier this month, dragging even Boeing into the conflict. Due to the sensitivity of the transaction, Boeing also sent legal counsel to defend its stance and keep price details a secret.

Airbus wasn’t shy of extending this issue beyond the A350 aircraft and as retaliation, to Qatar it cancelled the whole order of A321 aircraft placed by Qatar airways, this forced Qatar to seek an alternative which was obviously Boeing.

Airbus had concerns that Boeing has offered Qatar airways the 737-MAX at very low prices and thus wanted to see the documents of the transaction. This attempt was abruptly blocked by Boeing lawyers.

The coming days will show where this conflict is headed but we hope Airbus and Qatar Airways reach an agreement sooner rather than later.


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