Qatar Airways has stopped accepting deliveries of the A350 and is suing Airbus for a fee that has increased far above $1 billion due to alleged damage in the aircraft’s anti-lightning system.
Airbus and Qatar Airways are moving closer to an agreement to end their bitter dispute over the A350 aircraft that have been grounded, two people with knowledge of the situation told Reuters.
There is no guarantee that an agreement can be reached after months of public fighting, especially after previous attempts to avert a high-profile trial in London this year failed.
However, the sources claimed that following a flurry of political activity and a successful four-way meeting between the two companies and their respective regulators in Doha last week, the tone appeared more hopeful and negotiations have accelerated.
One of the individuals promised that “an agreement” will be reached, whilst the other source emphasised that the negotiations were “still in progress”.
The long dispute between the aviation giants
The safety implications of flaking paint that exposed corrosion and holes in a sub-layer of lightning protection have been the subject of months of litigation between the two companies in a UK court.
Due to the conflict between two of the biggest names in aviation, Airbus has had to cancel large-scale orders on an unprecedented scale, which has given its American rival Boeing more business.
Leaders of France and Qatar, two nations with close diplomatic and economic relations, have become aware of the conflict between their two flagship corporations.
Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the amir of Qatar, have recently spoken about the conflict, according to Reuters.
During a four-day trip to the Gulf, which included a stop on Sunday in Doha when he spoke with the amir and other officials, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire also brought up the subject, as reported by Reuters.
Qatar Airways has stopped accepting deliveries of the A350 and is suing Airbus for a fee that has increased far above $1 billion due to damage claimed to the aircraft’s anti-lightning system.
Over the past year, Qatar’s regulator has grounded at least 29 of the aircraft due to unresolved safety concerns.
While acknowledging quality issues with its top long-haul aircraft, Airbus maintains there is no safety risk, which is backed up by its own regulator. It has cancelled all pending new business with Qatar Airways and filed a counterclaim in its place.
According to industry sources and court filings, some airlines have struck their own arrangements for compensation or repairs to identical surface damage that has been observed across numerous carriers while other airlines continue to operate the jets.
Qatar Airways claims that Airbus conspired with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency to certify the aircraft as safe. In the meantime, Qatar Airways has been accused by Airbus of having a covert role in the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority’s decisions to ground the aircraft.
This accusation has been refuted by the airline.