Airbus seeks Qatar Airways damages as High Court dispute escalates

Airbus has asked the High Court in London to award it $220 million in damages over two undelivered A350 planes for Qatar Airways.

The move is the latest step in a long-running and increasingly bitter dispute between the two.

The court claim for damages came after Qatar Airways sued the manufacturer for $600 million over the erosion to the surface of more than 20 previously delivered A350 jets.

Airbus said it was also seeking to recover millions of pounds in credits awarded to the airline.

For its part, Qatar Airways welcomed a decision by the High Court to issue an injunction against Airbus.

The essence of the order, the carrier said, is that the manufacturer must not do anything between now and a further hearing in April that would “adversely affect its ability to comply with any court order that Qatar Airways might obtain in relation to the purported cancellation of the A321 contract”.

As the order obtained is an injunction, there would be “serious consequences” for Airbus should this order be breached, the carrier said.

The decision is the latest in an increasingly ugly dispute between the two parties.

In January, Airbus cancelled a contract for 50 new A321neo planes with Qatar Airways.

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That followed a decision in December by the Middle East carrier to issue legal proceedings against Airbus in a dispute over the grounding of its fleet of A350 planes.

The airline took 21 aircraft out of operation last year, arguing paint on the fuselage was “degrading at an accelerated rate” and creating a safety concern.

Airbus countered, blaming the airline for an “ongoing mischaracterisation of non-structural surface degradation”.

The manufacturer said the surface paint-related findings have been thoroughly assessed by its own team and confirmed by the European Aviation Safety Agency as having “no airworthiness impact” on the A350.

The dispute is ongoing, with a hearing due in April.

In an earnings call Airbus chief executive, Guillaume Faury, said the company was seeking a mutually acceptable resolution.

“We have to take steps to protect ourselves and protect the company and that is basically what we are doing, but obviously we continue to try to resolve the situation in a more amicable way,” he explained.

Qatar Airways said it also noted the remarks “with surprise”.

The carrier said its legal team was unaware of any efforts by Airbus to try to resolve the situation.

In a further development, Qatar Airways said the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) has now revoked the airworthiness review certificate of an additional A350 aircraft.

This means a total of twenty-two Airbus A350 aircraft now grounded.

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