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Airbus hits back at Qatar with $220 million A350 claim

The court claim for damages, in connection with two A350s that Qatar’s national carrier has rejected, came after Qatar Airways sued the planemaker for $600 million over the erosion to the surface of more than 20 previously delivered jets



The Airbus A350-1000 model aircraft is on display during the Singapore Airshow 2022 at Changi Exhibition Centre in Singapore, on February 15, 2022. — AP
The Airbus A350-1000 model aircraft is on display during the Singapore Airshow 2022 at Changi Exhibition Centre in Singapore, on February 15, 2022. — AP

By Reuters

Published: Mon 28 Feb 2022, 4:46 PM

Airbus hit back in an escalating dispute with Qatar Airways over A350 jets on Monday, asking a British judge to award $220 million in damages over two undelivered airliners.

The court claim for damages, in connection with two A350s that Qatar’s national carrier has rejected, came after Qatar Airways sued the planemaker for $600 million over the erosion to the surface of more than 20 previously delivered jets.

Airbus also wants to recover millions of dollars of credits awarded to the airline, a filing showed, offering a rare glimpse of negotiating details in the secretive global jet industry.

The counter-offensive is the latest salvo in a months-old contractual and safety dispute that has brought relations between two aviation industry titans to an all-time low.

Once basking in global attention as they signed multi-billion-dollar deals at air shows, the two sides are at loggerheads over erosion to the painted surface and damage including gaps in lightning protection on A350 jets.

Qatar Airways has said the surface degradation raises unanswered questions over the safety of the jets, prompting its regulator to ground planes one by one as it appears.

Airbus reiterated that the planes are safe because of margins built into the anti-lightning system and accused the airline of instigating the decision by its safety regulator.

It also said it reserved the right to argue that the airline and regulator had actively “colluded” over the groundings.

Qatar Airways had no immediate comment. Qatar’s aviation authority did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Airbus has acknowledged quality problems but accused the airline of mislabelling them as safety issues to get compensation.

Qatar Airway has said its regulator is strictly independent.

European regulators say the problems do not amount to an airworthiness issue on the jet, which is not grounded elsewhere.

Qatar confirmed on Monday that another of its A350 jets had been grounded, bringing the total number idled to 22.

Reuters had reported the move on Friday as Qatar sought to enforce a separate contract between Airbus and the same carrier for in-demand A321neo jets.

The two sides also clashed about the chances of a deal.

An Airbus spokesman said Monday’s counter-claim was a “last resort and followed many fruitless attempts to find mutually beneficial solutions”.

Qatar Airways said earlier it was not aware of “any efforts by Airbus to try to resolve the situation in an amicable way”. — Reuters


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