Independent arbitration .. the escalation of the dispute between “Airbus” and...

Airbus said Thursday that it is ready to resort to independent arbitration to try to settle its dispute with Qatar Airways, which grounds its A350 planes due to the deterioration of the fuselage surface.

After denouncing what it saw as a “misinterpretation” by its customer, the European Aerospace Group said in a statement it had decided to prepare for an “independent legal evaluation”.

She added in the statement, which was characterized by an unusually sharp tone towards one of the group’s most important customers and the second airline in the Middle East, that it is about “resolving the dispute, which the two parties were unable to resolve during direct and open discussions.”

The same source added that this measure, which Airbus said it “regretted having to take”, has become “necessary to defend its standing and reputation.” It was not disclosed what form of action Airbus could launch.

In response to a question about this matter during a conference call, the Executive Vice President of Programs and Services for the aircraft manufacturer, Philip Moon, confirmed that commercial contracts between Airbus and Qatar Airways provide for the possibility of this type, without adding any details.

An image showing cracks and exposed copper foil on the fuselage of the Qatar Airways A350.

Qatar Airways announced in early August that it had received an order from the regulatory authorities in its country to keep 13 of its Airbus A350 aircraft on the ground due to the rapid deterioration of the fuselage surfaces.

The fleet of “Qatar Airways” – the first operator of this type of aircraft in the world – includes 34 “A350-900” and 19 “A350-1000” planes, according to an Airbus document.

However, the European group, which admits that paint deterioration could expose the integrated metal grille intended to protect the aircraft in the event of a lightning strike on its composite fuselage, said this had no safety consequences during flight.

During its talks with Airbus, Qatar Airways confirmed the opposite, according to the European group, which also blames the airline for its “rejection (…) without legitimate justification” of the corrective solutions proposed by the group.

Airbus added that it is “working to re-establish a constructive dialogue with its customer on this matter, but does not intend to accept the continued issuance of any inaccurate statements of this kind.”

Moon explained that Airbus decided to take this measure and announce it because Qatar Airways “cut the first stage of judicial proceedings.”

In phone calls made to AFP on Thursday evening, Qatar Airways spokesmen said they had no comment at this time.

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