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Qatar Airways and Airbus settle legal dispute over A350 surface degradation

Qatar Airways and Airbus have reached an amicable and mutually agreeable settlement in relation to their legal dispute over A350 surface degradation and the grounding of A350 aircraft.

Legal dispute over

The legal dispute between Qatar Airways and Airbus is now over as both the parties have reached a friendly agreement.

Airbus is now offering a repair project to Qatar Airways which is already underway and “both parties look forward to getting these aircraft safely back in the air”.

Neither parties have revealed the details of the settlement, marking them as “confidential”. The parties will now proceed to discontinue their legal claims.

Airbus says that “this agreement will enable Qatar Airways and Airbus to move forward and work together as partners”.

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What exactly happened?

Qatar Airways is one of the largest operators of Airbus A350 aircraft in the world. What happened was that Qatar Airways started observing that the paint of some A350s started peeling, leading to what is called as “surface degradation”.

Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority classified this as a “safety issue”, leading to the grounding of some 19 Airbus A350s which were affected by the problem. Both Airbus and European Union Aviation Safety (EASA) denied claims that this was a safety issue.

Airbus agreed to undertake a repair project which would solve the issue temporarily, claiming that it is working on a permanent solution. Qatar Airways did not agree with this and asked Airbus to compensate for the losses incurred due to the grounding of the aircraft.

Airbus denied to do the same and Qatar Airways went ahead and filed a legal dispute in a London court.

Airbus even cancelled the order for 50 Airbus A321neos which Qatar Airways had on order in addition to the remaining A350s which were due to be delivered to the Middle Eastern airline. The court supported Airbus in this decision and said that Airbus has the right to cancel the order as part of the agreement.

So all in all, Qatar Airways was the one suffering in all of this. With the order for A321neos cancelled, the aircraft on which the future of the airline’s narrow-body fleet was dependent, Qatar Airways had no option but to join hands with Boeing. The airline placed an order for 25 Boeing B737MAX-10s, with option for 25 more.

This was bound to happen

The friendly settlement between Airbus and Qatar Airways was bound to happen. Why? Qatar Airways was in a very bad situation due to all of this. Qatar Airways was the one suffering in all of this as Airbus did not get affected at all in this as it was able to sell the yet-to-be-delivered Qatari A350s to different airlines while the A321neo is a hot cake right now, with airlines jumping in on any available slots to get hold of A321neos right now.

With relationship with Airbus now over, Qatar Airways had only one aircraft manufacturer to buy aircraft from, which is Boeing. At whatever price Boeing offered aircraft to Qatar Airways, it had to buy them as the negotiating power was not with the airline anymore.

While it is good to see the legal dispute get over, the only beneficiary in this is Qatar Airways as Airbus was not at all affected from the start only. While Airbus did lost a valuable customer, what Qatar Airways did to Airbus was also not good in my opinion.

Featured image by Qatar Airways

What do you think of Qatar Airways and Airbus settling the A350 surface degradation legal dispute with a friendly agreement? Let me know in the comments section below.

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