Airbus brings in lawyers in Qatar Airways A350 row – Metro US

Airbus brings in lawyers in Qatar Airways A350 row

FILE PHOTO: A logo of Airbus is seen at the
FILE PHOTO: A logo of Airbus is seen at the entrance of its factory in Blagnac near Toulouse

PARIS (Reuters) – Airbus dramatically raised the stakes in a dispute with Qatar Airways over surface damage to A350 jetliners on Thursday, accusing the Gulf carrier of misrepresenting the problem as a safety issue and calling for independent legal advice.

Airbus has been locked in a row with one of the industry’s biggest buyers for months over damage to paint and an underlying layer of lightning protection, which Qatar Airways says has led to the grounding of 20 jets by its domestic aviation regulator.

In a rare statement publicly airing the crisis in relations between the European planemaker and the launch customer of its premier long-haul jet, Airbus said the A350 jets showing damaged exteriors had been declared safe by European regulators.

“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 said in a statement.

Airbus officials confirmed the statement referred to Qatar Airways.

A spokesman for the airline said it would not comment on the Airbus statement before reviewing it.

The row widened last week when documents seen by Reuters revealed that at least five other airlines had complained about paint or other skin flaws since late 2016. Delta Air Lines joined the list of affected carriers this week, but so far only Qatar has seen jets being grounded .

“We have worked actively with Qatar Airways in order to minimise the impact of this in-service surface degradation on their aircraft,” Philippe Mhun, Airbus Executive Vice President Programmes & Services, told reporters.

Mhun said Airbus had offered solutions to Qatar Airways from patches, to repairs of the anti-lightning material or repainting of entire aircraft, but Qatar Airways had declined the offer.

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker has said it is not possible to evaluate the situation until there is a full breakdown of the root cause of the problem.

(Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Nick Zieminski)

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