Airbus and Qatar resolve bitter A350 paint dispute

Qatar Airways and Airbus have resolved a bitter dispute about flaking paint on A350 wide-body planes made by European plane maker Airbus. This has prevented a potentially costly and damaging court trial in the UK.

Qatar is one of the largest customers of the aerospace company and they announced Wednesday that they had reached an “amiable and mutually acceptable” settlement and would cease their respective legal claims.

They stated that the settlement agreement does not admit liability to either party and added to a joint statement. This said that they are working on a “repair plan” to get the aircraft back in the air.

Airbus stated that it would now proceed with delivery of 50 A321 single-aisle aircrafts and 23 A350 jets, as per the terms of the settlement.

Airbus has confirmed that the A350s will begin to be delivered in this year and the A321s will follow in 2026.

Airbus and Qatar spent over a year in the extremely unusual public dispute about surface degradation of A350 jets bought by Qatar, the first complaint in 2020.

Qatar sent an A350 plane to Ireland to be painted with a livery for 2022 FIFA World Cup. Some anomalies were discovered under the original paint before the application of the new color scheme.

Airbus acknowledged the flaws in its quality, but it maintained that there were no design problems. It also claimed that the jets were safe. This decision was supported by the EU Aviation Safety Agency.

After Qatar’s local aviation regulator grounded its 53-strong fleet, the dispute escalated and Airbus sought compensation. In December 2021, Qatar initiated legal action at London’s High Court.

The European plane maker scrapped a $6bn order for 50 A321neo aircraft after the Gulf airline refused to accept four A350 jets. Airbus claimed that Qatar’s refusal of the A350 planes granted it the right cancel any other contracts.

Both sides were estimated to have spent significant amounts in legal fees. The industry closely monitored the situation. Aircraft manufacturers will often try to avoid any court battle with major airlines.