Airbus said Thursday it was ready to seek independent arbitration to settle a dispute with Qatar Airways, which has grounded some of its A350 planes over the degradation of the exterior fuselage surface.
The airline, one of the Gulf region’s “big three” carriers, said in August that it was also not accepting further deliveries of the wide-body planes until Airbus had solved the problem and would not accept “anything other than aircraft that continue to offer its customers the highest possible standard of safety”.
But Airbus said the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) had confirmed its findings that the paint-related issue had “no airworthiness impact on the A350 fleet.”
The planemaker said the “attempt by this customer to misrepresent this specific topic as an airworthiness issue represents a threat to the international protocols on safety matters.”
It added that “it has become necessary for Airbus to seek an independent legal assessment as a way forward to resolve the dispute”.
Qatar Airways grounded 13 of its 53 A350s over the problem, which has seen the exterior paint degrade, exposing the metal mesh that protects the composite fuselage from lightning strikes.
Airbus said Qatar Airways had also rejected proposed solutions to the problem, without providing any reason why.
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Airbus has escalated a long-running dispute with one of its largest customers, saying it will seek an independent legal assessment about the quality of surfaces on its A350 widebody aircraft. The European airplane maker did not name the Qatari carrier but referred to recent claims about the quality of the paint and other surface issues on the A350.
Akbar Al Baker, chief executive of Qatar Airways, has repeatedly hit out at Airbus over the issue, saying last month that it was a “serious matter, we don’t know if it is an airworthiness issue, we also don’t know that it is not an airworthiness issue”.
Courtesy APP with additional input by GVS