Airbus CEO says in discussion with Qatar Airways over A350 dispute | Aviation news
The two sides are embroiled in a legal battle over the airworthiness of Europe’s newest long-haul plane.
Airbus is in talks with Qatar Airways to try to resolve a bitter legal and safety dispute over the A350 jetliner, according to the aircraft manufacturer’s chief executive.
“There is progress in the way we communicate; we work with each other,” Guillaume Faury told Reuters news agency on the sidelines of an airlines meeting in Doha on Sunday.
“I think we share the view that a settlement would be a better way to go, but until you have a deal, you don’t have a deal.”
There was no immediate comment from Qatar Airways.
The two sides are at odds over the airworthiness of Europe’s newest long-haul jet after damage to its protective outer skin revealed gaps in lightning protection and prompted Qatari authorities to ground more than 20 planes .
Airbus, backed by European regulators, has acknowledged flaws in the quality of several airlines’ jets, but denies the problems pose a safety risk, due to back-up systems.
Qatar Airways, backed by its own national regulator, which ordered the planes to be taken out of service, insists the safety impact cannot be properly understood until Airbus provides further analysis.
In an unprecedented legal battle in London, Qatar Airways is suing Airbus for more than $1 billion in damages, with the value of the carrier’s claim rising by $4 million a day.
“We are in a difficult situation, but we at Airbus are really ready to find a way out,” Faury said.
” We talked [and] the line of communication has never been broken between us and Qatar Airways. I’m not saying it’s easy… but we talk to each other and we continue to support Qatar Airways in its operations.
No direct talks so far
Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker told reporters last month he hoped the dispute could be “resolved out of court”, while remaining harshly critical of jet erosion, which has also affected some other carriers.
So far, industry sources say there is no sign of a settlement and a UK judge last month debated whether the dispute could be resolved outside of court anytime soon given the wide gap between the parties.
Faury and Al Baker are both attending the June 19-21 annual meeting of the International Air Transport Association in Doha, but delegates said there were no signs of direct talks so far. .
Industry sources say the rift is particularly difficult to bridge after it widened in January when Airbus terminated a separate contract with Qatar Airways for its smaller A321neos.
Qatar Airways said the decision to punish the airline for the A350 by canceling a separate deal sets a worrying precedent in the market, but Airbus said it was enforcing its contractual rights.