Qatar Airways Says Airbus Exerted Influence Over Regulator in Paint Dispute
LONDON–Qatar Airways Ltd. has accused Airbus EADSY 0.69%increase; green up pointing triangle SE of being too close to its safety regulator in a multibillion-dollar legal dispute over paint chipping on the body and wings of one of its flagship aircraft.
The airline made the accusation Friday in a statement to a London court as part of a case in which it claims that surface-paint issues on its fleet of A350s present a safety risk. Qatar Airways has grounded 29 aircraft over the issue, reducing its capacity as it prepares for a surge in travel to Doha for soccer’s 2022 FIFA World Cup, which starts this month.
Qatar Airways is suing Airbus for damages partly based on the impact on its operations from not being able to use the aircraft. Airbus on Friday said the tally had reached approximately $2 billion and was “continuing to increase on a daily basis.”
At the heart of the dispute is peeling and cracking paint on some of its A350s. Qatar Airways says this exposes the copper mesh underneath that is designed to protect the planes from lightning strikes. Airbus has acknowledged the degradation but says the issue is only cosmetic and not a risk to safety–a position its regulator, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, has agreed with in its own independent assessments.