In a statement Qatar Airways said, it has launched a lawsuit against EU planemaker Airbus in a bid to resolve a dispute over skin flaws on A350 passenger jets.
For months, both companies have been locked in a dispute over damages including blistered paint and corrosion to a sub-layer of lightning protection, which Qatar Airways says has now led to the grounding of 21 A350 jets by its domestic regulator.
Airbus insists the carbon-composite passenger jets are safe to fly despite some “surface degradation”; Qatar Airways insists it is too early to say whether safety has been compromised.
The dispute escalated last week when Airbus accused Qatar Airways of misrepresenting the problem as a safety issue and threatened to call for an independent legal assessment.
Qatar Airways responded saying it had launched a complaint against Airbus in 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,” said the Gulf based airlines. “Qatar Airways has therefore been left with no alternative but to seek a rapid resolution of this dispute via the courts.”
Confirming the launch of a formal complaint, Airbus said, “it intends to vigorously defend its position”.
According to several industry executives, such a public legal fight between two is unprecedented. The row escalated after at least 5 airlines, flying in varying climates, also complained of paint or other surface problems.
Until recently, Airbus had maintained that the problem was focused on paint on Qatar’s A350s, based in the Gulf.
Airbus is also looking at changing the anti-lightning system.
Airbus also said, it had proposed interim solutions ranging from repairs to repainting and has accused Qatar Airways of ignoring those proposals without reasonable justification.
Qatar Airways said, it could not be sure whether proposed repairs would work without deeper analysis with its CEO say, if such was the case why is Airbus still working on a solution if a reliable fix is already available.
The 21 grounded jets represent 40% of its current fleet of A350s, for which it was the launch customer with the biggest order. Other airlines continue to operate the jet, saying its airworthiness is not affected by what they term cosmetic issues.