Qatar Airways calms the game against Airbus

Akbar al Baker, le PDG de Qatar Airways

Akbar al Baker lowers his voice. After taking to court his dispute with Airbus over defects in its A350s, the CEO of Qatar Airways now hopes that this conflict will be resolved out of court.

“Every partnership has disputes and I just hope that this dispute can be resolved out of court,” he said Thursday at a press conference in Doha.

The loss of the first legal round in April may have convinced him to seek common ground with the aircraft manufacturer. British justice has, in fact, given reason to Airbus on the cancellation of a contract for 50 A321 NEO, decided last December by the manufacturer in reaction to the accusations of the Gulf company against the A350. A contract valued at $4.6 billion at list prices. While the court must set the timetable for the settlement of the main dispute relating to the degradation of the paintwork and the erosion of a protective layer of the A350s, Qatar Airways is calming things down and prefers to play negotiation rather than confrontation.

Airbus also wants to favor an amicable solution

“The case can now move quickly to focus on the main subject, namely the false statements of Qatar Airways on the safety and airworthiness of the A350, which we will continue to defend,” Airbus said in a statement. press release, ensuring “favor an amicable solution”.

Last summer, Qatar Airways announced that it had been ordered by the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) to ground 13 of its Airbus A350s due to cracking paint on certain areas of the fuselage and the vertical stabilizer, as well as the deterioration of the expanded copper sheets (ECF, a mesh of copper wires which covers the carbon parts of the fuselage to provide protection against lightning by forming a Faraday cage). Since then, other planes from the Qatari company have been grounded and the situation has continued to worsen. While the aircraft manufacturer recognizes that paint degradation may expose an integrated metal net intended to protect the aircraft in the event of a lightning strike on its fuselage made of composite materials, this situation has no consequence on the airworthiness of the aircraft. the device. A diagnosis confirmed by the European Aviation Safety Agency, EASA, which has so far not deterred Qatar Airways from initiating legal proceedings, then claiming compensation of 618 million dollars ( €546 million).

In its defense, Airbus accused the Gulf carrier of acting in bad faith.

“It is currently in the economic interest of QTR (Qatar Airways, editor’s note) – in particular because of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on its activities – that the planes are immobilized on the ground and that it seeks to obtain compensation from Airbus (…) rather than keeping these planes in the air,” he wrote.

Long-haul traffic is the most affected by traffic restrictions and should not return to its pre-pandemic level until 2025, according to the sector.

The European aircraft manufacturer also wondered about a possible collusion between the company and the regulator “in order to try to improve the commercial position of QTR against Airbus”. Other A350s from Qatar Airways or other companies with similar fuselage damage continue to fly in Qatari skies, without the national regulator having withdrawn their authorization to fly, he noted.

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Nearly 200,000 air passengers a day expected for the World Cup

Qatar expects to receive up to 200,000 air travelers each day during the FIFA World Cup, with Gulf airlines operating dozens of daily shuttles, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker said Thursday. Hamad International Airport and the old Doha International Airport will see their capacity doubled. In order to increase air links with the 31 qualified countries (in addition to Qatar), those to nations not participating in the tournament will be interrupted or reduced, added Akbar al-Baker, also chairman of the Qatar Tourism Authority. . The emirate expects to welcome between 1.2 and 1.4 million supporters expected between November 21 and December 18. Airlines Saudia, Kuwait Airways, Flydubai and Oman Air will organize more than 160 round trips on the day from November 20, he said. Authorities estimate that more than 20,000 fans could come from neighboring Gulf countries every day to watch the world premier in the Middle East. Nearly 70% of Qatar Airways scheduled flights will have their schedules changed to schedule additional flights.

(with AFP)