Somewhere in November 2020, Qatar Airways began to evaluate the five-year-old A350 jets. During its internal review, Qatar Airways discovered 980 defects. It approached the plane-maker Airbus to examine the planes to determine the lightning protection defects in the jets and fix them to meet the regulatory body’s sanction criteria.
Besides Qatar Airways, Finnair, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Lufthansa, and Air France had also raised similar concerns over A350 jets. When Airbus failed to provide satisfactory answers for the defects, Qatar Airways pressed charges against Airbus seeking compensation of $618 million-plus $4 million a day. It further refused to accept delivery of the remaining 23 jets.
Based on the airline stand, the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority withdrew flying permits for individual A350 planes in June 2021. Airbus decided it won’t settle and fight the claims, as it believed there was no risk to the safety of the A350s. Airbus further pointed out that other airlines have continued to use fly the A350 jets without any concerns.
Yet, Airbus acknowledged that there had been instances of the paint was peeling off and it was working towards fixing it. As the tiff between the airline and plane-maker intensified, Airbus also canceled a $6 billion contract with Qatar Airways in January.
Now the question arises is if and how this dispute between Qatar Airways and Airbus affects Indian airlines.
To that, the answer is straightforward. If the tussle between the giants continues, India’s future orders for A350 planes might get affected adversely. If Airbus loses the case against Qatar Airways, it will struggle to find buyers for its wide-body planes in India.
As per the latest update, Airbus stated that it expects Indian carriers to order 2,210 jetliners over the next 20 years, making up about 6 percent of its projected order book.