Stock - Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways has no intention to back down on the legal claims it has against Airbus. A new statement issued by the airline doubles down on that message. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Qatar Airways intends to do whatever is necessary on the legal side to pursue its claims against Airbus over the A350 paint dispute.

Ahead of the trial, Qatar Airways will receive a ‘full disclosure’ from Airbus on the surface degradation issue affecting the jets, said Qatar Airways, adding that it would give the Gulf carrier an ‘insight’ into the true nature of the problem. “Qatar Airways is ready to see this matter through to trial to ensure that its rights are protected and that Airbus is required to address an unprecedented and extremely unique and concerning defect impacting the A350 aircraft type, across the industry and multiple carriers,” said the airline on its website.

Last week, a court in the UK set the trial on the airline’s $1 billion claims for mid-2023. Qatar Airways, which is reportedly seeking $1 billion in compensation from Airbus, said in March that paint layers on its A350s had been seriously damaged, exposing the lightning protection system to wind and the elements, and thus making the fuel tanks vulnerable to ignition.

The airline grounded more than 20 A350s due to the paint erosion - it also stopped taking further deliveries of the aircraft. The dispute, a rare one for the aviation industry, widened in January when Airbus cancelled a separate deal for 50 A321neos.

Full-scale legal spat

Airbus said it was ‘surprised’ by Qatar Airways’ ‘complete mischaracterization’ of the High Court ruling, which rejected all of Qatar’s requests for injunctions regarding the A321neo contract and the A350. “As a simple barometer of what actually happened, the UK High Court ordered Qatar to pay 97 per cent of Airbus’ legal costs,” said the European plane-maker in a statement.

Qatar Airways has maintained that a simple paint job - offered by Airbus initially to fix the problem – would not be sufficient for what the airline regards as a ‘design defect’. “The judgment handed down by the justice in a hearing in the High Court has exposed for all in the aviation sector to see, the fiction of the Airbus narrative that the condition affecting the Airbus A350s is a simple ‘cosmetic’ paint issue,” said Qatar Airways.

“We have long been arguing that there is more to this issue than just paint and that the remedies proposed by Airbus do not deal with the fundamental issues affecting the A350.”

Airbus said it was also pleased with the court’s decision. “The matter can now proceed with all due speed to focus on the main topic of the misrepresentation by Qatar Airways of safety and airworthiness of the A350,” it said. “Airbus continues to favour engagement and an amicable solution to resolve the dispute - the continued litigation is not in the interests of either party.”