By Tim Hepher and Guy Faulconbridge
PARIS/LONDON (Reuters) – Qatar Airways is claiming $618 million in compensation from planemaker Airbus in a dispute over erosion to the surface of A350 jetliners, a court document showed on Thursday.
The Gulf airline is also seeking extra compensation of $4 million for every day that 21 of its A350 airplanes remain grounded by Qatar’s regulator over the skin damage, which includes erosion and gaps in a layer of lightning protection.
The European jetliner’s largest customer launched the claim in December, saying Airbus had failed to provide a full root-cause analysis needed to satisfy its questions over the airworthiness of some 40% of its A350 fleet.
Airbus said it understood the cause and would “deny in total” the airline’s claim in a division of the High Court in London. “Airbus restates there is no airworthiness issue,” a spokesperson said, adding this view had been confirmed by European regulators.
Qatar Airways had no immediate comment.
The companies have been locked in a row for months over damage including blistered paint, rivet-related cracks and corrosion to the sub-layer of lightning protection.
The row escalated in November when a Reuters investigation revealed at least five other airlines had discovered surface flaws, prompting Airbus to set up an internal task force and to explore a new anti-lightning design for future A350 planes.
Qatar is so far the only country to ground some of the jets.
(Reporting by Tim Hepher and Guy Faulconbridge; editing by David Goodman and Jason Neely)