According to fresh court documents seen by Reuters on Thursday, Qatar Airways is seeking at least $618 million in compensation from European aircraft manufacturer Airbus in a dispute over a paint fault found on some A350 planes.
On the orders of Qatar’s national civil aviation authority, the Doha-based airline has grounded 21 of its 53 Airbus A350 aircraft, citing airworthiness issues stemming from the paint fault.
Qatar Airways is now demanding an additional $4 million in damages for each additional day the plane remains grounded, in addition to the $610 million lump sum.
Airbus has failed to identify the core cause of the problem, according to Qatar Airways, and the planes will remain in storage until the airframer delivers a permanent remedy.
The two sides’ feud has been simmering for months, but it reached a head last month when Airbus threatened legal action against an anonymous customer.
Qatar Airways reacted quickly to the threat by filing a lawsuit against Airbus in the High Court of London.
On Thursday, an Airbus official told Reuters that the corporation will “totally dispute” the complaint.
Several other A350 carriers, including Cathay Pacific, Delta Air Lines, Finnair, and Lufthansa, have had the same painting problem. No other airline has grounded any of its A350s as a result of the problem, and the European Aviation Safety Agency argues that it is not an airworthiness issue.
When Qatar Airways sent one of its A350s to be painted in a unique FIFA World Cup 2022 livery, it noticed the problem.
Paint was peeling, bubbling, and cracking in specific places of the aircraft fuselage, according to engineers. The paint has been scraped away in some cases to reveal a specific lightning protective layer.
Airbus claims to have proposed various options, but Qatar Airways has rejected them.
Qatar Airways claims it filed the lawsuit because “all of our endeavors to establish a constructive solution with Airbus in connection to the rapid surface degradation situation negatively affecting the Airbus A350 aircraft unfortunately failed.”
“Qatar Airways has therefore been left with no alternative but to seek a rapid solution of this dispute via the courts”.