Airbus has canceled a $6 billion deal with Qatar Airways for 50 of its new A321 neo-passenger planes, intensifying a legal dispute over paint on the recently delivered A350s.
Airbus’ decision, revealed on Friday, was met with “a matter of considerable regret and frustration” by Qatar Airways.
Following a number of reported difficulties with the Airbus A350 aircraft, Qatar Airways took Airbus to court in London in December.
The paint on the freshly delivered Airbus A350s was flaking and peeling, revealing copper meshing meant to protect the plane against lightning strikes, according to the airline.
After suspending the damaged aircraft — 21 of its 53 A350 jets – it is demanding more than $600 million in compensation, alleging the paint issue represents a safety concern.
When the acquisition was finalized in December 2017, it was said to be valued $6.35 billion.
On Friday, Qatar Airways shared a video on social media displaying the damaged exteriors of grounded A350 planes, citing “serious and legitimate safety concerns.”
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency conducted an independent review of the situation and found no safety issues.
In documents prepared for a London court hearing on Thursday, Airbus stated that “there is no reasonable or rational basis” for Qatari authorities to halt Qatar Airways’ A350s.
In view of the coronavirus pandemic’s fall in demand for air travel, it accused Qatar Airways of starting the grounding because it was in its own financial interest to keep the planes grounded.
In a statement released on Friday, Qatar Airways denied the allegations.
“These defects are not superficial and one of the defects causes the aircraft’s lightning protection system to be exposed and damaged,” it said. “We continue to urge Airbus to undertake a satisfactory root cause analysis into the cause of the defects.”