© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – The logo of Qatar Airways is seen at the International Tourism Trade Fair ITB Berlin (Germany), March 7, 2018.
LONDON, (Reuters) – A British judge granted Qatar Airways a quick trial in a dispute over the safety of jetliners. However, he dismissed several procedural claims by Airbus including a request to divide the case.
After a series of accidents to the outer skin of its protective layer, which caused damage to one of aviation’s most important commercial partnerships, European’s latest long-haul aircraft has been in dispute with both companies for several months.
Airbus can continue to deliver A350s and trigger payment clauses to Qatar Airways. Or, it may try to sell the planes that were rejected to Air India, which could be a potential buyer, industry sources suggest.
Qatar Airways requested that the High Court of Britain split the case and direct Airbus to conduct a more detailed analysis on issues related to a system to protect the planes from lightning strikes, which averagely strike commercial jets about once per year.
Airbus was also prohibited from delivering more A350 aircraft to Abu Dhabi or selling any remaining undeliverable aircraft on the other side of the dispute.
Both of these demands were rejected by the judge, however, Qatar requested a speedy case on its main safety and contractual dispute. The judge also added an indication window beginning in June 2013 for what might be a three month summer trial.
Judge David Waksman declared, saying that he had no doubt the case should be heard as soon as possible. He also stated that it was in everyone’s best interest.
Before a crowd of lawyers, the judge lament the legal drama surrounding the dispute between two top players in aviation.
In my view, the costs for both parties are exorbitant. As the sides debated who would pay the bill, Waksman stated that there is too much time being wasted here.
Qatar grounded over 20 A350s due to erosion of the painted surface.
According to the Gulf carrier, this raises concerns about the safety of affected jets. It is refusing more deliveries until further analysis has been completed and seeking $1 billion compensation.
Airbus admits to quality problems but maintains that the planes are safe. The airline has tried to get more planes delivered as soon as possible.
European regulators ruled that the A350’s paint issue did not impact their airworthiness and other airlines are continuing to fly it. Reuters was told by top officials in the industry to reach a compromise.
In January, Airbus pulled out of a contract it had with Qatar to purchase smaller A321neo aircraft. Airbus’s attempt to reverse the decision by the judge was rejected last month.
Airbus won a partial victory in the preliminary rulings, but those close to Airbus said that the main focus was the trial. This could spark debate about A350 development decisions.