By the Leeham News Team
Feb. 28, 2022, © Leeham News: Airbus last Friday filed its answer to the lawsuit filed by Qatar Airways over the A350 paint issues. Qatar claims 21 A350s have defective paint issues that lead to safety concerns for lightning protection. Qatar’s national regulator grounded the airplanes.
The manufacturer replies in its answer that it believes the regulator acted at the airline’s request, which Airbus believes was motivated by economic reasons rather than safety issues.
Airbus also said that the paint stripping of the A350 intended for repainting was improperly done and deviated from Airbus’ procedures outlined in its manuals.
All A350s grounded by Qatar are, in fact, airworthy, Airbus says, denying the airline’s request for compensation. Airbus claims the airline refused to undertake recommended repairs and that the regulator failed to specify in detail why the airplanes were grounded. Airbus accuses the airline of failing to act in good faith. Despite claims by the airline that Airbus failed to find the full root cause of the problem, Airbus responded that it has done so.
Airbus analyzed the airline’s A350 fleet usage during the COVID pandemic. It concluded that only two A350s operated at pre-pandemic flight operation levels. Thus, Airbus contends, it is in the airline’s economic interest to ground the A350s and seek compensation from Airbus.
A counterclaim of more than $220m has been made by Airbus for the two A350-1000s Airbus tendered to the airline for delivery, which was refused. The claim will rise as storage and maintenance costs are incurred, plus any reconfiguring costs if and when the two A350s are resold. Airbus also seeks to recover purchase credits of nearly $200m for the contract to acquire 80 A350s, prorated to the number of aircraft that were not delivered—in this case, four altogether. Airbus seeks a return of more than $21m.
When the airline refused delivery of the two A350-1000s, Airbus exercised a cross-default provision to cancel a Qatar order for 50 A321neos. Airbus seeks a refund of nearly $4m in credit memos related to the cross-default for the A320/321neo contract.
A stay on Airbus’ canceling the A321neo contract was adopted by the court, with a hearing set April 7. In Friday’s filing, Airbus addresses this controversy.
The filing may be found here: Airbus Response to Qatar 2-25-22
According to those familiar with the dispute, Airbus prefers a negotiated outcome.
Boeing issued the following statement on the situation in Russia-Ukraine:
“We are focused on supporting our employees, customers and suppliers in the region, while adhering to all US and global laws and regulations. In light of the evolving situation, we have temporarily closed our office in Kyiv and paused operations at our Moscow Training Campus.”
Guillaume Faury, the CEO of Airbus, Tweeted the following: