Qatar Airways, Airbus reach concession on A350 legal dispute

The European multinational aircraft manufacturer, Airbus confirmed it reached an “amicable agreement” with the Qatari flag carrier, Qatar Airways to settle the months-long legal quarrel over the former A350 safety and airworthiness concerns. Qatar Airways and Airbus are pleased to have reached an amicable and mutually agreeable settlement in relation to their legal dispute over A350 surface degradation and the grounding of A350 aircraft,” Airbus stated, adding that the settlement details will remain confidential. Under the mutual agreement, both parties will discontinue their legal claims, as they proceed to collaborate on a repair project to return the aircraft safely to the skies. The settlement marks an end of a lengthy legal standoff between the two industry giants over the grounding of nearly 29 aircraft after surface degradation exposed gaps in the aircraft’s anti-lightning system.

The groundings have incited Qatar to stop taking deliveries of further aircraft orders and file a lawsuit against Airbus for over $1 billion in compensation. On its part, Airbus terminated a contract with the Gulf airline for 50 A321neo aircraft, valued at $6 billion, before fully revoking its pending order for 19 A350 aircraft valued at $7 billion at catalogue prices ahead of the busy FIFA World Cup 2022 season.

In January, Airbus carried out design changes to the aircraft model including trials on a new type of copper foil (PCF) to replace the expanded copper foil (ECF) currently use. Meanwhile, it insisted that the aircraft’s earlier design was safe.

The prolonged dispute and consequent order cancellations have offered Airbus’ American rival, Boeing a larger market share, with an order for 34 Boeing 777-8 freighters a commitment for 16 others from the Gulf carrier. The strife’s impact has extended beyond the court of law, rising to the attention of French President Emmanuel Macron and Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who recently engaged in mutual talks to end the dispute. The European manufacturer has reportedly reached agreements with other airlines earlier over reports of similar surface damages.

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