European aerospace company Airbus has canceled a $6 billion deal with Qatar Airways. The contract for the new A321 passenger jets was terminated following an ongoing legal battle between the two. Qatar Airways had been at loggerheads with Airbus over their alleged substandard aircraft bodies. Paint peeling off from the A350S aircraft was a point of serious contention at the court.
Qatar Airways has released a video showing paint peeling off from the recently delivered Airbus A350. As a severe safety concern, this exposes the copper meshing used to protect the aircraft from lightning strikes. Here are some screenshots from Qatar’s video.
Qatar complained about the poor build quality of all 13 aircrafts which are meant for travelling long-distances. Qatar alleged that the inexpensive, lightweight design similar to a jet aircraft degraded the quality of the airbus. Meanwhile, Airbus officials denied all the allegations put forward by Qatar Airways Ltd. Airbus stated that the paint issue is not a safety concern and therefore is not a grounding for major compensation claims. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency assessed the situation and arrived at the same observation.
The dispute started in May and the business relationship between Airbus and the airlines only got worse. Several other airlines including Air France, Cathay Pacific, Delta Airlines, Etihad and Lufthansa had raised similar concerns about the paint quality of Airbus’ A350s. According to Reuters, some had even reported damages extending below the paint surface to a layer of lightning protection.
Chief executive of Qatar Airways Mr. Akbar Al Baker has long had a bad-customer reputation, publicly lashing out at Airbus and Boeing. On December 20, Qatar Airways took to the court in London seeking a compensation of $700 Million from Airbus. The airline has announced that it had initiated legal proceedings in the technology and construction division of the London High Court. Airbus in the London lawsuit, accuses Qatar for exaggerating the situation for compensation and halting the delivery of the remaining two A350s. The airline has grounded 21 of its fleet of 53 A350s following this issue. Previously, Qatar made a separate deal with Airbus for the delivery of 50 small A321Neo Jets worth $6.35 Billion. Since the case has reached the London High Court, Airbus has canceled all transactions with Qatar. Later in an official statement Qatar Airways said, they were “disappointed and saddened” by Airbus’ decision.