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Qatar Airways Files Lawsuit Against Airbus Over A350 Jet Damage Row

Qatar Airways Files Lawsuit Against Airbus Over A350 Jet Damage Row
Qatar Airways has filed a lawsuit in the United Kingdom against plane maker Airbus alleging skin faults on A350 passenger jets, moving the two parties closer to a rare legal battle over aviation safety, the airline has said.
The firms have been at odds for months about damage to a sub-layer of lightning protection, including blistered paint and corrosion, which Qatar Airways claims has resulted in the suspension of 21 A350 jets by its local regulator.
Despite some "surface degradation," Airbus claims that the carbon-composite passenger jets are safe to fly, but Qatar Airways argues it is too early to judge whether safety has been affected.
Last week, Airbus charged the Gulf airline of portraying the fault as a safety problem, threatening to seek an independent legal examination in what analysts described as an extraordinary action.
Qatar Airways retaliated by announcing that it has moved its lawsuit against Airbus to the High Court in London.
"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," it said in a statement. "Qatar Airways has therefore been left with no alternative but to seek a rapid resolution of this dispute via the courts."
A formal legal claim had been received by it, Airbus confirmed of the lawsuit in a statement. "Airbus intends to vigorously defend its position," it said.
Earlier, a representative said the company had discovered the root of the issue and was working with customers and safety regulator of Europe on the issue, which had determined there was no safety risk.
Qatar Airways disputes that the surface problems, which have afflicted some of the planes with a pock-marked look, are adequately understood, and stated on Monday that it wants Airbus to conduct a "thorough study."
A public legal battle between two of aviation's major companies, according to several industry officials, is unusual.
According to reports based on documents and published earlier this month, claimed that at least five other airlines in various regions have reported about paint or other surface concerns since 2016. Till lately, Airbus insisted that the issue was due to paint on Qatar's A350s, which are located in the Gulf.
The plane maker has stated that it is offering short term solutions varying from fixes to repainting, and Qatar Airways has been charged of disregarding these recommendations without rational reasons.
On Monday, Qatar Airways emphasised that it could not be certain whether planned fixes would succeed with no further investigation. Its CEO has asked why Airbus is still working on a fix when there is already a proven solution.
The 21 grounded planes make up 40 per cent of the company's existing A350 fleet, for which it was the launch client with the largest order. Other carriers continue to fly the plane, claiming that its airworthiness is unaffected by cosmetic flaws.
Meanwhile, the dispute appears to be costing Airbus a significant order for a new A350 cargo version from Qatar.
On Monday, it received the model's maiden solid order, securing a previously preliminary contract for four planes from France's CMA CGM.
Last week, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker told the South China Morning Post that he had considered placing a substantial order for the cargo A350. According to sources, Boeing is now expected to get the contract to replace Qatar's 34-35 freighters.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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