A350 dispute: Qatar Airways calms the game against Airbus

Akbar al Baker, le PDG de Qatar Airways


Akbar al Baker lowers his voice. After CEO Qatar Airways brought to court his dispute with Airbus over defects on his A350, he hopes that the conflict will be resolved out of court.

“Every partnership has disputes and I just hope that this dispute can be resolved out of court,” he told a news conference in Doha on Thursday.

The loss in the first round in April may have persuaded him to seek common ground with the aircraft manufacturer. In fact, the British judiciary has given Airbus the reason to cancel the contract for 50 A321 NEO, which was decided by the manufacturer last December in response to Gulf’s allegations against the A350. A $ 4.6 billion contract at list prices. While the court must set a timetable for resolving the main dispute over paint degradation and erosion of the A350 protective layer, Qatar Airways calms the situation and plays into negotiations rather than confrontation.

Airbus also wants to favor a friendly solution

“The case can now move quickly and focus on the main issue, namely the false statements of Qatar Airways on the safety and airworthiness of the A350, which we will continue to defend,” Airbus said in a statement. amicable solution ’.

Last summer, Qatar Airways announced that it had been instructed by the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) to ground 13 of its Airbus A350s due to cracked paint on certain areas of the fuselage and vertical stabilizer, as well as damage to expanded copper sheets (ECF). which covers the carbon parts of the fuselage to provide lightning protection by creating a Faraday cage). Since then, more Qatari company planes have been grounded and the situation has deteriorated. Although the aircraft manufacturer acknowledges that paint degradation may reveal an integrated metal network designed to protect the aircraft in the event of a lightning strike made of its fuselage made of composite materials, this situation has no effect on the airworthiness of the aircraft. The diagnosis, confirmed by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which has not yet discouraged Qatar Airways from initiating legal proceedings, then demanded compensation of $ 618 million (€ 546 million).

In its defense, Airbus accused a Gulf carrier of acting in bad faith.

“It is currently in the economic interest of the QTR (Qatar Airways) – mainly due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic – on aircraft to keep the aircraft stationed on the ground and to seek compensation from Airbus (…) before to keep these planes in the air, “he wrote.

Long-distance transport is most affected by traffic restrictions and, according to the sector, should not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2025.

The European aircraft manufacturer also considered a possible collusion between the company and the regulator “in an attempt to improve QTR’s business position vis-à-vis Airbus”. Other A350s from Qatar Airways or other companies with similar fuselage damage continue to fly in the Qatar sky without their national regulator withdrawing their permit to fly, he noted.

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Almost 200,000 air passengers are expected at the World Cup every day

Qatar expects to take up to 200,000 passengers by air every day during the World Cup, with Gulf airlines operating dozens of shuttles a day, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker said on Thursday. Hamad International Airport and the old Doha International Airport will double. In order to increase air connections with 31 qualified countries (excluding Qatar), connections with non-participating nations will be cut or reduced, added Akbar al-Baker, also chairman of the Qatar Tourism Authority. The emirate expects to welcome 1.2 to 1.4 million supporters between November 21 and December 18. Saudia, Kuwait Airways, Flydubai and Oman Air will operate more than 160 return flights on November 20, he said. Authorities estimate that more than 20,000 fans from the Gulf countries could come every day to watch the world premiere in the Middle East. Almost 70% of Qatar Airways scheduled flights will have a changed flight schedule so that more flights can be scheduled.

(with AFP)