Complete News World

A350: Why the row with Qatar Airways is so sensitive for Airbus

A350: Why the row with Qatar Airways is so sensitive for Airbus

Qatar Airways has grounded 13 Airbus A350 aircraft. She criticizes the quality defects in the structure. For Airbus, dealing with an influential customer is tough.

Akbar Al Baker is one of Airbus’ toughest customers. The head of Qatar Airways loves to harass and provoke, and at the same time he is very demanding. An Airbus employee told Wirtschaftswoche magazine in 2019 that Al Baker not only allowed deliveries to explode due to technical flaws, but also “because the shade of purple in the decor did not match the color he selected in a certain light.”

has now Qatar Airways has grounded 13 Airbus A350s – Following “express written instructions from the supervisory authority,” according to the airline. According to Qatar Airways, this is about a very rapid wear of the surface of the fuselage under the paint. Airline and manufacturer They’ve been fighting about this since the beginning of the year.

Al Baker calls for “due attention”

Airbus is trying to handle the matter discreetly, indicating only the current basis for confidentiality of discussions with the customer. AeroTELEGRAPH learned from the group’s environment that although some surface damage was found, from Airbus’ perspective, this had no effect on airworthiness. Therefore inspections after scheduled maintenance work should not be necessary. The manufacturer does not see any security issue, Qatar Airways suggests.

Akbar al-Baker demanded that “Airbus treat this matter with due diligence”, find the cause and correct it. The aircraft manufacturer will now have to increasingly respond to critical inquiries from other A350 operators and possibly also other regulatory authorities.

Qatar Airways owns a quarter of IAG

Above all, it is also sensitive for Airbus because Qatar Airways is an important customer who owns shares in other important customers. Qatar’s state airline is the first customer of the A350-1000. I ordered 34 A350-900 and 42 A350-1000. – 900 are already there, 23 of 1000 are still missing. In addition, the airline is waiting for 50 A321 Neo. It was also one of the first airlines to show interest in the A350 freighter.

Qatar Airways has also expanded its influence over the past few years. In February 2020 It increased its stake in IAG and now owns 25.1 percent British Spanish Aviation Group. Iberia, which belongs to IAG, operates a fleet of Airbus aircraft and is an important operator of the A350-900. Sister British Airways is based on the A350-1000.

Background threatened by investments

Qatar Airways also owns and already has 10 percent of Latam Publicly consider doubling this percentage. Brazilian airline Chile wants No longer relying on the A350 in the future. As the largest airline in South America with more than 100 aircraft in the A320 family, it remains an important customer of Airbus.

Akbar Al Baker is not shy about using these investments as a threatening backdrop. Airbus warned of this as early as JuneRisking ‘stress’ in ‘relationships with IAG, Latam and other airlines in which we participate’.

There is no flawless alternative in Boeing

But there is also one point that greatly relieves the pressure on Airbus in this matter. Qatar Airways does not currently find a flawless alternative with Boeing that the airline can turn to in place of the A350. The airline is still waiting for 23 Boeing 787s, but the one Dreamliner has been plagued by a variety of production issues for some time. As well as the Boeing 777X, of which Qatar Airways ordered 60 copies, You didn’t just have to take a setback It is still far from validated.