Qatar Airways and Airbus have reached an amicable and mutually agreeable settlement in relation to their legal dispute over A350 surface degradation and the grounding of A350 aircraft.
Even though, the details of the settlement are confidential for the time being, a repair project is now underway and both parties are looking forward to getting the dozens of Qatar Airways grounded A350s safely back in the air. Moreover, both the manufacturer and the Gulf carrier will now proceed to discontinue their legal claims, averting a UK court trial scheduled for June later this year.
“The settlement agreement is not an admission of liability for either party. This agreement will enable Qatar Airways and Airbus to move forward and work together as partners.”
Airbus and Qatar Airways
The Gulf carrier had dragged the European planemaker to court over safety, after cracks in the painted surface exposed gaps in a sub-layer of A350 lightning protection, prompting its regulator to ground around 30 of the A350 jets.
Qatar Airways claimed that the fuselage of the aircraft was degrading at an accelerated rate, while Airbus claimed that the damage was cosmetic.
Airbus Reinstating Qatar’s A321neo Order and Resuming Deliveries of A350
Airbus also said it will reinstate Qatar’s orders for 50 A321neo single-aisle aircraft that the company had revoked as part of the dispute. It will also hand over the remaining 23 A350s to the Doha-based carrier, with deliveries starting this year.
Starting from 2026, Qatar will get the A321neo aircraft according to an Airbus spokesman, previously scheduled due to commence in 2023.
Airbus had initially cancelled Qatar Airways’ all outstanding aircraft orders, including all the remaining A350s alongside an order for 50 A321neo aircraft. As a result, the Gulf carrier was forced to look for alternatives. Qatar Airways placed an order for 50 737 MAX jets in a move to stick to its planned growth.
Qatar Airways even returned its fleet of A380 superjumbos following the A350s grounding to cope with more passengers.
Long-running A350 Saga
The long-going saga between Airbus and Qatar Airways started towards the end of 2020 when the Gulf carrier complained that its young fleet of A350s faced cracks in the paint and subsequently its regulator grounded major portion of its A350 fleet. Howeover, the European planemaker rejected all allegations that safety could have been compromised due to this issue.
Qatar Airways had 53 Airbus A350 aircraft in its fleet including 34 A350-900s and 19 A350-1000s at that time. Moreover, it had an outstanding order for additional A350 aircraft when this conflict erupted. This bitter battle resulted in months of public wrangling and a lawsuit.
Moreover, a preliminary court hearing took place in London on January 19 earlier this year, where it became known that Airbus had implemented a design change on rear-section of its A350s amid an ongoing $2 billion dispute between Airbus and Qatar Airways over surface damage due to probable design defects. It became known that Airbus had moved from expanded copper foil (ECF) to perforated copper foil (PCF) for the layering between the carbon fuselage and outer paint on its A350s since late last year.
According to London’s High Court Judge David Waksman, Airbus’ decision to implement the new A350 design was significant to the ongoing case.