Qatar Airways said on Monday it had moved a court London against European planemaker Airbus for a dispute over skin flaws on its A350 passenger jets.
The Gulf airline has grounded 21 A350 jets, which represents 40% of its fleet of A350s. It says it’s reacting to damage including blistered paint and corrosion to a sub-layer of lightning protection that could be a safety issue.
Airbus meanwhile intensified the dispute last week by accusing Qatar Airways of trying to misrepresent the problem as a safety issue.
Airbus said the A350 has a metallic material lying between its fuselage and its exterior layer of paint, which is designed to protect against lightning strikes. The planemaker says wear and tear can happen on the paint or the material, depending on plane usage.
Legal row unprecedented
Qatar Airways has 53 long-range wide-body of the twinjets, and has ordered another 23. But the company has not been accepting delivery of new jets since June, due to the corrosion problem.
“We have sadly failed in all our attempts to reach a constructive solution with Airbus in relation to the accelerated surface degradation condition adversely impacting the Airbus A350 aircraft,” said Qatar Airways in a statement. “Qatar Airways has therefore been left with no alternative but to seek a rapid resolution of this dispute via the courts.”
Airbus executive vice president for programs and services Philippe Mhun recently said the problems noted by the airline were not a safety issue, as argued by Qatar Airways. The aviation giant also recommended calling an independent assessor to review the dispute, which has been going on for more than a year.
A public legal fight between two aviation industry giants is unusual. Documents accessed by Reuters agency showed at least five other airlines in varying climates had complained about similar problems to Airbus since 2016.
tg/msh (dpa, Reuters)