January 2021 – A350 sent to Toulouse with reports of cracks
A7-ALL was sent to Shannon, Ireland, to receive a world cup livery in November 2020. By the end of the year, the aircraft hadn’t returned to Qatar. Instead, the four-year-old jet ended up being sent to Airbus in Toulouse with reports of issues found under the paintwork. At the time, Airbus described these as “irregularities on the surface coating. The issue is superficial / cosmetic and only visible when the top coat of paint is stripped. “
Photo: Clément Alloing
Qatar Airways A350 Sent To Toulouse With Reports Of Cracks
February 2nd, 2021 – Lufthansa sends its oldest A350s to Toulouse to be repainted
After four years in operation, Lufthansa began sending its three oldest A350s to Toulouse to be repainted. This stood out at the carrier is more than capable of repainting aircraft in-house. It has since transpired that the work was carried out by Airbus under warranty.
After 4 Years Lufthansa Begins Repainting Its Airbus A350 Fleet
May 31st, 2021 – Qatar threatens to halt Airbus deliveries
At the end of May, Qatar Airways threatened to stop taking delivery of all aircraft produced by Airbus. The airline’s CEO revealed that this was due to an outstanding issue with the manufacturer, but refused to clarify what the issue was. At this point, Al Baker was already indicating that the relationship between the two wasn’t looking good.
Qatar Airways CEO Threatens To Stop Taking Airbus Deliveries
June 8th, 2021 – Qatar Airways confirms Airbus delivery halt
Around a week after threatening to stop taking delivery of new Airbus aircraft, the airline’s CEO, Akbar Al Baker revealed that he was following through with his threat. At this point, the airline also indicated that the row was to do with the condition of the plane underneath the paintwork.
Photo: Frederic Lancelot – Master Films via Airbus
Qatar Airways Stops Taking A350 Deliveries As Airbus Row Drags On
August 5th, 2021 – Qatar Airways grounds 13 A350s
At the start of August, Qatar Airways began taking things to the next level grounding 13 of its Airbus A350 aircraft. The action was reportedly undertaken in compliance with the advice of the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority. Al Baker accused Airbus of ignoring a serious problem with the A350s.
Qatar Airways Grounds 13 A350s Due To Surface Issues
August 10th, 2021 – EASA not concerned about airworthiness
EASA confirmed that it has been aware of Qatar Airways’ A350 issues since late 2020, and had been working with Airbus and the airline to determine if there was a risk to the type’s airworthiness. At the time the body told Simple Flying,
“EASA is not intending to take any action as State of Design for this issue at this time. No other airlines have reported paint and protection damage.”
EASA Not Intending To Act On Qatar’s A350 Grounding Yet
August 10th, 2021 – Singapore not seeing surface degradation
On the same day that EASA confirmed it wasn’t concerned that the Qatar Airways issue was an airworthiness issue, Singapore Airlines revealed that it hadn’t been experiencing any of the issues seen by the Qatari flag carrier on its Airbus A350 fleet.
Singapore Airlines Not Experiencing A350 Surface Degradation
November 5th, 2021 – Qatar Airways brings back the Airbus A380
To plug the gaps left by its grounded Airbus A350s, Qatar Airways revealed that half of its Airbus A380 fleet would be returning to service. Having previously called ordering the giant aircraft a mistake, Akbar Al Baker said that the decision to bring the A380 back was made reluctantly.
Photo: Getty Images
Qatar Airways Is ‘Reluctantly’ Bringing The Airbus A380 Back
November 29th, 2021 – More airlines have paint issues
A report by Reuters reveals that more airlines have been affected by paint issues on the Airbus A350. The report mentions Finnair, Cathay Pacific, Etihad (who hasn’t even flown the jet commercially yet), and Air Caraibes as experiencing cosmetic damage to the paintwork on their A350s.
A New Layer To The A350 Paint Saga: More Airlines Raise Concerns
December 9th, 2021 – Airbus seeks a legal assessment
While Qatar Airways alleges that the issue affects the aircraft’s safety, Airbus has maintained that the damage is purely cosmetic. The European planemaker revealed that it was seeking an independent legal assessment of the issue. While not naming Qatar Airways, Airbus commented that “The attempt by this customer to misrepresent this specific topic as an airworthiness issue represents a threat to the international protocols on safety matters.”
Airbus Seeks Legal Assessment In A350 Paint Saga
December 11th, 2021 – The UK Government gets involved
Days after Airbus revealed that it was seeking a legal assessment of the issue, the UK’s Investment Minister, Gerry Grimstone, offered to mediate between the two parties to avoid legal actions and a further deterioration of relations. While likely well-intentioned, it appears that Grimstone’s offer failed.
UK’s Investment Minister Offers To Mediate Between Airbus And Qatar Airways
December 21st, 2021 – Qatar begins legal proceedings
A week or so later it became clear that Grimstone’s attempt to avoid legal action had failed. On December 20th, Qatar Airways issued legal proceedings against Airbus at the Technology and Construction division of the High Court in London.
Photo: Alexandre Doumenjou – Master Films via Airbus
Qatar Airways Issues A350 Legal Proceedings Against Airbus At London High Court
January 6th, 2022 – Qatar seeks over $ 600m in damages from Airbus
Following a court filing, the extent of the Qatar Airways claim was revealed. The airline is seeking $ 618 million in damages from Airbus. In addition, the airline is seeking an extra $ 4 million for each day that one of its A350s remains grounded. This would equate to the 2018 list price of an Airbus A350-900 every 80 days.
Qatar Airways Seeks Over $ 600m In Damages From Airbus
January 21st, 2022 – Airbus cancels 50 A321neo orders
As the row continued to escalate, it was revealed that Airbus had pulled the plug on an unrelated Airbus A321 order for 50 aircraft that Qatar Airways had committed to. The manufacturer said that the order was canceled in accordance with its rights.
Qatar Airways’ A321neo Order Canceled By Airbus Amid A350 Dispute
January 21st, 2022 – Qatar Airways retaliates with unseen videos of damage
In retaliation to Airbus’ order cancelation, Qatar Airways decided to release a video showing the damage that its Airbus A350 fleet had experienced. This was the first time that either party had revealed the extent of the damage that was being seen.
Photo: Qatar Airways via YouTube
Qatar Airways Releases Video Of Airbus A350 Damage
January 31st, 2022 – Qatar Airways places a huge Boeing order
Following the cancelation of its A321 order, Qatar Airways placed an order with Airbus’ rival Boeing. The order was for up to 100 aircraft, including 50 Boeing 737 MAXs to replace the A321s. The carrier had been looking to place a new freighter order. While the race seemed head and head between Airbus and Boeing last summer, there was really no choice for Qatar Airways at this point as it placed the first order for the Boeing 777X freighter, committing to up to 50 aircraft.
Qatar Airways Signs For Up To 100 Boeing 777X Freighters & 737 MAXs
February 8th, 2022 – Airbus cancels 2 Airbus A350 orders
Airbus released its January 2022 order books in early February. As spotted by Reuters, the updated books showed that Qatar Airways’ A350 orders had dropped by two.
Airbus Cancels Two Of Qatar Airways’ A350 Orders As Row Drags On
February 19th, 2022 – Temporary injunction blocks A321neo order cancelation
A judge ordered that Airbus should stop “any practical impact” of the A321neo order cancelation. This essentially means that the planemaker isn’t allowed to offer the aircraft to other airlines. However, the injunction is currently only a temporary measure until the decision can be properly assessed at a court hearing scheduled for April.
Airbus Cancelation Of Qatar Airways A321neo Order Put On Hold
February 28th, 2022 – Airbus asks for $ 220 million in damages
Airbus asked a high court judge to award it $ 220 million worth of damages for two A350 aircraft which were not accepted for delivery by Qatar Airways. Airbus suggested in court that Qatar Airways and the Qatari regulator “wrongfully colluded or conspired and / or otherwise acted together in bad faith in relation to the groundings.“
Airbus Asks Judge For $ 220m In Damages Over Qatar A350 Case
March 22nd, 2022 – Qatar Airways disputes Airbus’ $ 220m claim
Qatar Airways has disputed that it is liable for Airbus’ damages claim worth $ 220 million for not taking delivery of two A350s. The airline argued that it had not broken its contract with the planemaker, and that Airbus had not revealed how it arrived at the $ 220 million figure.
Qatar Airways Disputes $ 220m Fee For Not Taking 2 Airbus A350s
March 30th, 2022 – Qatar Airways says paint issue could lead to fires
In court documents released as part of the Qatar Airways Airbus feud, the airline cited a safety assessment published by EASA in April 2021. The airline is concerned that paint degradation could lead to the lightning mesh being damaged over the aircraft’s fuel tanks, potentially leading to a fire in a worst-case scenario.
Qatar Airways Says A350 Paint Issue Could Lead To Fuel Tank Fires
April 4th, 2022 – Airbus cancels a third A350 order
Qatar Airways is refusing to take delivery of new Airbus A350 aircraft until its current concerns have been addressed to its satisfaction. This led to a third A350 not being taken by the carrier. As a result of the refused delivery, Airbus canceled the order according to reports.
Photo: Jean-Vincent Reymondon via Airbus
More Cancelations: Airbus Deletes Another Qatar Airways A350 Order
April 26th, 2022 – Court rejects A321neo cancelation injunction
Ruling that the Airbus A350 and A321neo orders are covered by a cross-default clause, a court ruled that Qatar Airways’ Airbus A350 refusal was valid grounds for canceling the A321neo order. As such, Airbus is allowed to offer the slots reserved by Qatar Airways to other customers. The decision doesn’t stop Qatar Airways from challenging the action at a full trial in the future.
Court Rejects Qatar Airways Request To Block A321neo Order Cancelation