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Airbus sued for $1bn over another bribery scandal

written by Hannah Dowling | March 26, 2021

SriLankan A350-900. (Airbus)

SriLankan Airlines has launched a $1 billion lawsuit against European planemaker Airbus, citing damages, loss of reputation, and reimbursement costs, as the manufacturer continues to face fallout from its ongoing bribery scandal.

The lawsuit pertains to the purchase of 10 aircraft – six A330s and four A350s – as well as the lease of four additional A350s.

It comes after the UK Crown Court found Airbus guilty of engaging in bribery tactics amid aircraft deals, with the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) reporting bribery offences against Airbus in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Indonesia and Ghana.

According to the lawsuit filed by SriLankan, between 1 July 2011 and 1 June 2015, Airbus failed to prevent persons associated with its company from bribing others concerned with the purchase of aircraft by SriLankan Airlines from Airbus.

The suit alleges that $16.8 million was pledged to an intermediary company in order to secure the order for 10 aircraft and the lease of four aircraft with the airline. Ultimately, only $2 million of this pledge was paid.

The suit also alleges that Airbus lied to government bodies in the UK in order to suppress the identity of the intermediary company.

It was also alleged that the wife of an executive at the intermediary company was used by Airbus to secure the aircraft purchase and lease deals.


Along with the $1 billion lawsuit, SriLankan Airlines has also demanded that Airbus cancel its order for the purchase of four A350-900s, and return its advance payment of $19 million already paid by the airline.

The Sri Lankan national carrier has engaged an international law firm to back its case, and has obtained advice from the country’s Attorney General.

The Sri Lankan carrier’s suit is the latest in the European planemaker’s corruption and bribery scandal, which previously saw authorities in the UK and France launch an investigation into the company, as well as one of its subsidiaries, dating back as far as August 2012.

The probe into Airbus itself was launched in 2016, and came to a head in January 2020, when Airbus agreed to a $4 billion settlement over such corruption charges from US, UK and French authorities.

Airbus was accused of bribery and corruption practices in over a dozen countries.

Further, on 30 July 2020, the SFO also charged Airbus subsidiary, GPT Special Project Management, along with three individuals inside the business, with corruption in connection with a defence contract the UK had arranged with Saudi Arabia.


  • Brad


    Sounds like the bribery scandals of Lockheed in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Obviously this does not reflect on the whole company, but on executives who are not beyond the bribery scheme. Airbus is a quality manufacturer that will suffer greatly for this indiscretion if they lose in court.

  • Brian Jackson


    The only way to sell goods or get service in the countries mentioned (plus Arab countries) is to pay a bribe. Even for a flight plan a bribe has to be paid. Even getting a stamp in ones passport in some of them a bribe has to be paid.
    Getting our own spare parts from their customs a bribe is required.

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