Qatar Airways recently sued Airbus over defects with the surface paint of the A350 jetliners. Image Credit: Supplied picture

Dubai: Airlines are closely watching the ongoing dispute between Qatar Airways and European plane-maker Airbus, said Willie Walsh, Director General of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Both the companies are in the middle of a high-stakes battle after the Gulf airline sued Airbus over defects with the surface paint of the A350 jetliners. Airbus responded by terminating a separate order for its A321neos and accused Qatar Airways of instigating a local grounding of the twin-aisle jets in order to claim compensation.

The dispute "has clearly changed the relationship between Qatar and Airbus, and I think a lot of other airlines will be looking at this to see how Airbus responds,” said Walsh. “A lot of other airline CEOs will want to understand what has caused this issue - I think it's a challenge for our industry and where you have two suppliers - Airbus and Boeing - we need to ensure good healthy competition”

The rift between Qatar Airways and Airbus is unusual for the industry, which is still reeling from the impact of a two-year pandemic that decimated air travel demand worldwide. Qatar, which is gearing up to host the FIFA World Cup later this year, will be relying on its national carrier to bring in visitors from across its network.

“We do see this issue of relationship between individual suppliers and airlines go through phases and they can be positively or negatively impacted by external events as well as internal events,” said Walsh. “But, I don't think anybody has seen an issue quite as bad as this.”