Airbus’ announcement, revealed on Friday, was met with “great sadness and displeasure” by Qatar Airways. Following a number of reported issues with the model A350, Qatar Airways sued Airbus in London court late last year.
The paintwork on the freshly received A350 was flaking and peeling, according to Qatari officials. The result was the exposure of the copper meshing meant to protect the plane against lightning strikes, Qatari airline said.
After halting the damaged aircraft, Qatar Airways is demanding over $600 million in restitution. The airline alleges that the paint defect represents a safety concern.
with the ratification of agreement four years ago, the value of the deal was $6.35 billion. Two days ago, Qatar Airways shared a video on social media displaying the damaged exteriors of stranded A350 planes, citing severe and valid safety concerns.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency separately investigated the matter and identified no safety issues. In documents prepared for a London court hearing on Thursday, Airbus stated that there is no logical or rational foundation for Qatari authorities to halt the model owned by Qatar Airways.
A350; Security Concerns or Financial Considerations
In the context of pandemic’s fall in passenger numbers, as Airbus accused Qatar Airways, the latter started the ground the A350 for its financial benefits. Airbus claims that the airline attempted to contain the losses through grounding the jets.
Qatar Airways denied the allegations, while it provided no evidence. “These defects are not superficial and one of the defects causes the aircraft’s lightning protection system to be exposed and damaged,” the airline emphasized.
“We continue to urge Airbus to undertake a satisfactory root cause analysis into the cause of the defects.”
Since six years ago, at least six airlines have noticed A350 paint or skin issues, according to a Reuters analysis. In November 2020, Qatari concerns were raised, following 5 other precedents, when an effort to repaint a plane in World Cup colors revealed 980 issues.
For the upcoming A350 planes, Airbus wants to consider modifying the layout of the anti-lightning mesh. It stressed, however, that enough alternative lightning protection is in place. Qatar, it claims, is subverting existing regulations by attempting to gain privileges over false security concerns.