Airbus ‘colluded’ with EU authorities over Qatar Airways dispute, court told
Airbus allegedly colluded with the EU’s aviation safety regulator to ensure the authority supported its position in a dispute it had with Qatar Airways, lawyers for the middle eastern airline told a London court today.
Airbus succeeded in “exerting influence” over the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) by providing the regulator with a “line to take,” over concerns raised by Qatar Airways over the degradation of paintwork on jets manufactured by the French plane maker, court documents seen by City A.M. show.
The alleged collusion between Airbus and the EU authority came after the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) forced Qatar Airways to ground 29 of its 53-strong fleet of Airbus’ A350 jets, over a paint degradation issue the Qatari airline blames on Airbus’ design.
The EASA later carried out an assessment of the degradation issue that confirmed there was no airworthiness impact and no technical impediment to the operation of Qatar Airway’s fleet.
However, lawyers acting for Qatar Airways today told a High Court that Airbus’ chief executive Guillaume Faury leveraged his firm’s relationship with EASA in a bid to shape the aviation watchdog’s approach to the dispute.
The hearing comes after Qatar Airways filed a $1bn (£860m) claim against Airbus relating to losses it suffered through the grounding of its A350s.
Airbus last month told investors it faces a “material adverse impact” from Qatar Airways claim, but has rejected the airline’s “mischaracterisation” of the situation, and vowed to “defend itself vigourously”.
An Airbus spokesperson said the French firm is complying with the court process and also continuing to provide all relevant elements to prove its position that the A350 is safe and that all necessary measures are in place to address the surface degradation issues.
The company spokesperson said Airbus is disappointed the QCAA grounded Qatar Airways’ A350s and noted the middle eastern aviation authority is the only authority to have done so in the world.