The head of Qatar Airways on Tuesday accused planemaker Airbus of acting as a “bully” as their billion-dollar dispute over peeling paint seemed no closer to resolution.
The airline and major aircraft manufacturer have been battling in UK courts for months over the paint problem which saw Qatar Airways ground 23 A350 planes.
“If things were settled, we wouldn’t be waiting for the trial to take place yet next year,” Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker told the Transport Association’s annual general meeting. international airline in Doha.
“A manufacturer should never be allowed to use their market dominance to intimidate their long-time customer.”
Both sides said they hoped to reach a negotiated settlement after their last hearing in May, when a High Court judge in London agreed to an accelerated trial schedule.
Qatar Airways is seeking around $1 billion in damages for peeling paint, which it says poses a threat to the A350’s lightning rod.
Last year, the airline grounded part of its A350 fleet and demanded $200,000 in damages per day for each plane out of service.
Airbus responded by canceling an order worth more than $6 billion for 50 A321s from Qatar Airways, the Middle East’s second-largest carrier and one of its biggest customers.
When asked to react to Baker’s comments, Airbus told AFP: “The best solution is a negotiated solution and that is what Airbus is looking for.”
Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury told reporters earlier that the French manufacturer was in talks “all the time” with Qatar Airways.
“We have this situation to resolve and it takes time. It takes time and sweat, and I’m very frustrated to be in this situation,” he said on Sunday.
“I don’t like being in this situation with customers, that’s very clear, that’s why we’re trying to find a solution moving forward. But it’s difficult.”
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