After a lull, the storm returned with renewed strength between Qatar Airways and Airbus

Two consecutive defeats in the judicial field? It takes more to stop Qatar Airways and its chief executive Akbar al-Baker, who are determined to win their case in their dispute with Airbus over the A350’s paint problems. If the leader said last week “I just hope this dispute will be resolved out of court”, the situation looks radically different only a few days away.

In a long statement, the Qatari company provided a copy of the remarks made by Judge David Waxman on May 26 during a hearing at the High Court of Justice in London, which is responsible for adjudicating the case. This exposes proponents of the dispute between the two parties, namely that the peeling of the A350’s coating “is caused by a different coefficient of expansion between the fiber-reinforced composite polymer (CFRP) that makes up the airframe. And a layer of expanded copper (ECF), a network of copper wires that covers the carbon parts of the fuselage. to provide protection against lightning by forming a Faraday cage (editor’s note), which is either glued or polymerized”, thus the problem is likely to recur and there is no “simple solution” to definitively address it.

On the other hand, the judge does not rule on the merits of the case, that is, whether this problem is of an aesthetic nature only, as Airbus asserts, or whether it has an impact on flight safety as Qatar Airways claims.

Qatar Airways refused its orders

It was enough for Qatar Airways to claim victory. What Airbus considered a “completely wrong interpretation”. The construction wants proof of this by the fact that the Supreme Court rejected all orders issued by the Gulf company.

On April 26, the British judiciary confirmed the validity of the cancellation of the A321 NEO contract, which was decided by Airbus in response to the accusations against the A350 that Qatar Airways strongly objected. On May 26, during the hearing cited by the airline, Judge Waxman denied three more requests from the latter. So Qatar Airways asked the Supreme Court to split the trial into two parts (the first is dedicated to analyzing the root causes of the problem and the second to settling the dispute itself), to prevent Airbus from continuing to offer the A350s for delivery. As long as the dispute is not settled (this is currently rejected by the company, which exposes it to contractual compensation terms), but also prevents the manufacturer from reselling the rejected devices to another company.

So Airbus can still claim payment terms from Qatar Airways for aircraft that are in production or awaiting delivery, or sell them elsewhere. Thus, Reuters, citing industry sources, is of interest to Air India.

The manufacturer adds “as a simple measure” that British justice has ordered Qatar to pay 97% of Airbus’ legal costs.

Airbus still claims it wants an amicable solution, but the case appears to be going the wrong way and the chances of litigation continuing until trial are increasing. The parties and the judge agreed that we should move quickly, and this could be held within a year, in the summer of 2023.