Qatar Airways Details A350 Compensation Claims; Airbus Digs In

Qatar Airways A350
Credit: Pascal Pavani / AFP / Getty Images

Qatar Airways is seeking $618 million in compensation from Airbus in a legal dispute over the severity of surface degradation on Airbus A350 aircraft—claims that Airbus continues to insist are without merit.

A new London court filing adds more details to the ongoing dispute, including the compensation demand plus $4 million for each day the 21 affected jets remain out of service. A Reuters report detailed the updated filing. 

“Airbus acknowledges the receipt of the Qatar Airways claims which we deny in total,” an Airbus spokesman said. “Airbus restates there is no airworthiness issue which has been confirmed by EASA. Airbus has identified the root cause and has provided necessary guidance to its customers and operators for continuous operations.”

Qatar Airways declined to comment.  

The new filing updates were made in December 2021 with the Technology and Construction division of the High Court in London as part of an ongoing dispute with Airbus over the A350 surface degradation. Qatar Airways claims the issue is an airworthiness risk, while Airbus insists the problems do not affect safety.

“For several months, Airbus has been actively involved in discussions with Qatar Airways,” the Airbus spokesman said. “Airbus rejects Qatar Airways’ ongoing and public mischaracterization of the nature of these issues and of their impact on the A350 aircraft’s continuous airworthiness. At Airbus, we stand ready to defend our position and uphold our aircraft’s reputation, the satisfaction of our customers, and international protocols on safety matters.”

When it initiated the legal proceedings Dec. 20, 2021, Qatar Airways said, “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. Qatar Airways has therefore been left with no alternative but to seek a rapid resolution of this dispute via the courts.” 

In addition to grounding 21 A350s, Qatar Airways is refusing to take delivery of additional aircraft of the type.

Qatar has 34 A350-900s and 19 A350-1000s in its fleet and 23 more A350-1000s on firm order.

Airbus says that it has identified the root cause of the issues and proper means of repair and the issues do not justify the grounding of the aircraft or the payment of compensation.  

Qatar Airways’ December statement added, “the legal proceedings have been commenced to ensure that Airbus will now address our legitimate concerns without further delay. We strongly believe that Airbus must undertake a thorough investigation of this condition to conclusively establish its full root cause. Without a proper understanding of the root cause of the condition, it is not possible for Qatar Airways to establish whether any proposed repair solution will rectify the underlying condition.”

Helen Massy-Beresford

Based in Paris, Helen Massy-Beresford covers European and Middle Eastern airlines, the European Commission’s air transport policy and the air cargo industry for Aviation Week & Space Technology and Aviation Daily.


1 Comment
" air worthiness issue.." is a necessary, but insufficient reason to deny that this situation is a big deal for Airbus. Customers have choices.