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Qatar denies owing Airbus US$220m over A350 spat

written by Isabella Richards | March 23, 2022

An Airbus A350-1000 chartered to fly four million face masks from China to Europe. (Source: Airbus)

Qatar Airways has denied it owes Airbus US$220 million in compensation over rejecting two A350 aircraft deliveries, marking the latest blow to the ongoing legal spat.

In legal documents that were made public on Monday, according to Bloomberg, the Doha-based carrier said it didn’t break its contract when refusing to accept the jets.

The airline also said it was unsure how Airbus arrived at that conclusion.

The two aerospace giants have been battling it out in a heated row for months now, after Qatar sued Airbus in December over ongoing paint surface and lightning mesh complaints on its A350 jets.

In February, Qatar cancelled two A350 deliveries due to the dispute, and later that month, Airbus asked a London High Court judge to award the planemaker US$220 million in damages over the rejected aircraft.

Since the beginning of the issue, Qatar’s regulator has forced the airline to ground 22 of its A350 aircraft, with no signs of re-entering these into service until the dispute is resolved.

Qatar said on Monday the surface flaws, which have also been reported by other airlines such as Finnair, Cathay Pacific, Etihad and Air France, would expose the aircraft to lightning strikes.

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Both the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and the Federal Aviation Administration have said the surface issues pose no safety threat to the aircraft, and Airbus has argued Qatar is mislabelling the complaints to bag compensation.

The carrier has sought for more than $700 million in compensation for the costs involved in being unable to fly the A350s in its fleet, and Qatar said that the EASA is yet to undertake an “extensive analysis” over the surface flaws.

Since the beginning of the dispute, both Airbus and Qatar have made little known attempts to resolve the contention.

Airbus said in February the request for US$220 million in compensation was the “last resort” after “fruitless attempts to find mutually beneficial solutions”.

Qatar said on Monday the planemaker proposed to repair the lightning mesh, but a week later it failed.

In January, Airbus cancelled over 50 orders of A321 jets from Qatar due to its deceitful groundings, the planemaker said, but a judge ordered the company to delay the cancellation.

The judge is set to make a decision in early April, before the court dispute over the A350 issues on 26 April.

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