Airbus CEO says in talks with Qatar over A350 dispute

Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury speaks during a visit by German Economics and Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck to the Airbus research facilities in Hamburg, Germany, on 18 January 2022. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

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DOHA, June 19 (Reuters) – Airbus (AIR.PA) is in talks with Qatar Airways to try to resolve a bitter legal and safety dispute over the A350, the maker’s chief executive said on Sunday.

“There is progress in the sense that we are communicating, we are working with each other,” Guillaume Faury told Reuters on the sidelines of an airlines meeting in Doha. “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.”

Qatar Airways was not immediately available for comment.

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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 . Read more

Airbus, backed by European regulators, has acknowledged flaws in the quality of several airlines’ jets, but denies the issues pose a safety risk, due to back-up systems.

Qatar Airways, backed by its own national regulator, which has ordered the jets out of service as the problem emerges, insists the safety impact cannot be properly understood until Airbus does did not provide a more in-depth analysis. Read more

In an unprecedented legal battle in London, he is suing Airbus for more than $1 billion in damages, with the value of the carrier’s claim rising by $4 million a day. Read more

“We are in a difficult situation, but we at Airbus are really ready to find a way out,” Faury said.

“We discussed (and) the line of communication was never 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. .”

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 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.

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Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Jamie Freed

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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