DALLAS – Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury says the manufacturer is in talks with Qatar Airways (QR) on the A350 paint and safety issues.
The manufacturer and the airline have been fighting in a public and bitter legal dispute over defective paintwork that the airline says endangers its planes by exposing the copper lightning protection mesh. Qatari officials had grounded all QR A350s till the issue was addressed by Airbus.
Last month, the British High Court ruled against the airline, which had asked the court to split the case into two parts: 1) to order Airbus to conduct a deep analysis into the issues causing the paint to peel, and 2) to prevent Airbus from delivering more A350s to the airline.
If planes were delivered, it would trigger payment clauses. If QR rejected those delivered planes, Airbus would be free to offer them to other airlines.
Echoing Mr. Akbar Al Baker, who said last month he hoped the dispute could be resolved outside the court of law, Faury agreed that a settlement would be preferable, admitting that Airbus was in a tough spot but that it was committed to finding a solution.
Are the Qatar A350s Airworthy?
Qatar is seeking around US$1bn in compensation from Airbus, with the value of the claim rising by US4$m per day. So far, Airbus has acknowledged the problem but says that it has fully reviewed and solved the quality issues and that safety is not compromised. The European Aviation Safety Agency has said the planes are airworthy.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive, Mr. Akbar Al Baker, has remained critical of the erosion of the paint surface, which he mentioned had also affected other carriers.
However other airlines have continued to fly the A350 without any issues. Some have seen a similar problem in paint deterioration, but none have grounded the type due to the issue.
Qatar has 21 A350s on order, some of which are ready to be delivered. The airline already has 34 A350-900s and 19 A350-1000s in its fleet, although some are grounded. It will be interesting to see how the whole episode turns out and in whose favor, as both are facing some seriously unprecedented times.
Featured Image: Qatar Airways A7-ANK Airbus 350-1000. Photo: Luca Flores/Airways