Airbus gets tough with Qatar Airways on A350 dispute
Airbus has said it will seek an “independent legal assessment” as a way to resolve a dispute over the grounding of the Qatar Airways A350 fleet.
The Middle East carrier took around 20 aircraft out of operation in August claiming paint on the fuselage was “degrading at an accelerated rate” and creating a safety concern.
Last week Qatar Airways chief executive, Akbar Al Baker, called on Airbus to address the problem.
“It is a serious matter; we do not know if it is an airworthiness issue; we also do not know that it is not an airworthiness issue.
“The real cause of it has not been established by Airbus,” he told the Aviation Club in London.
To date, Airbus and the flag-carrier have been unable to settle the issue during “direct and open discussions”.
In the face of the “ongoing mischaracterisation of non-structural surface degradation,” Airbus has now confirmed it will seek legal redress.
The manufacturer said the surface paint-related findings have been thoroughly assessed by its own team and confirmed by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) as having “no airworthiness impact” on the A350.
The attempt by Qatar Airways “to misrepresent this specific topic as an airworthiness issue” represents a threat to the international protocols on safety matters, a statement said.
“While Airbus regrets the need to follow such a path, it has become necessary to defend its position and reputation.
“Airbus has worked actively with its customers in order to minimise the impact and any inconvenience caused by this in-service surface degradation on the aircraft.
“These solutions have all been dismissed by the above-mentioned customer without legitimate justification,” added a statement.
Airbus said the A350 is performing well in service, with a 99.5 per cent operational reliability.
The company said it was working to re-establish a constructive dialogue with Qatar Airways on the matter - but is not willing to accept “inaccurate statements” to continue.