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Conflict on the A350: after a lull, the storm resumes with renewed vigor between Qatar Airways and Airbus

Conflict on the A350: after a lull, the storm resumes with renewed vigor between Qatar Airways and Airbus
Written by madishthestylebar

Two defeats in a row on the judicial field? It takes more to stop Qatar Airways and its CEO Akbar al Baker, who are determined to win their case in the dispute between them and Airbus over the coating problems of the A350s. If last week, the leader said “just hope that this dispute can be resolved out of court”, the situation seems radically different just a few days apart.

In a long statement, the Qatari company presented a transcript of remarks made by Judge David Waksman on May 26 during a hearing at the High Court of Justice in London, responsible for ruling on the case. This exposes the proponents of the dispute between the two parties, namely that the peeling of the paint of the A350 “results from a different coefficient of expansion between the composite fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) of which the airframe is made. and the layer of expanded copper (ECF, mesh of copper wires which covers the carbon parts of the fuselage to provide protection against lightning by forming a Faraday cage, Editor’s note), which is glued to it or polymerized”, that the problem is therefore likely to recur and that there is no “simple solution” to address it definitively.

On the other hand, the judge does not rule on the merits of the case, that is to say whether this problem is only of an aesthetic nature, as Airbus maintains, or whether it has an impact on flight safety as claims Qatar Airways.

Qatar Airways dismissed on its injunctions

It was enough for Qatar Airways to claim a victory. What Airbus judged as “a totally erroneous interpretation”. The builder wants proof of this by the fact that the High Court rejected all the injunctions issued by the Gulf company.

On April 26, British justice validated the cancellation of an A321 NEO contract, decided by Airbus in response to accusations against the A350 and firmly contested by Qatar Airways. And on May 26, during the hearing cited by the airline, Judge Waksman refused three other requests from the latter. Qatar Airways thus asked the High Court to split the trial into two parts (with a first devoted to the analysis of the root causes of the problem and a second to settle the dispute itself), to prohibit Airbus from continuing to present A350s for delivery as long as the dispute is not settled (these are for the moment refused by the company, which exposes it to contractual compensation clauses), but also prohibit the manufacturer from reselling to a other company said devices refused.

Airbus can therefore still claim payment terms from Qatar Airways for aircraft in production or awaiting delivery, or sell them elsewhere. The Reuters agency, citing industrial sources, thus evokes an interest from Air India.

The manufacturer adds “as a simple barometer” that British justice has condemned Qatar to pay 97% of Airbus’ legal costs.

Airbus still claims to want to favor an amicable resolution, but the case seems to be on the wrong track and the chances of the litigation continuing until the trial are increasing. The two parties and the judge agreeing on the need to go quickly, this could be held in a year, in the summer of 2023.