Airbus and Qatar Airways have settled a nasty spat over paint that escalated into a multibillion-dollar tit for tat. The companies announced Wednesday that they’ve reached an “amicable and mutually agreeable” settlement over peeling paint on some of Qatar’s brand-new A350s. Presumably that will end the two-years of PR, legal and economic warfare and will lead to the faulty paint being fixed. “A repair project is now underway and both parties look forward to getting these aircraft safely back in the air,’’ the companies said in a statement quoted by Aljazeera.
When the peeling paint exposed the copper wires that run through the composite structure for lightning protection, Qatar authorities declared the planes unsafe and grounded all 29 the airline had in service. Airbus admitted the paint had issues but said the planes were safe. Qatar sued and Airbus countered by canceling Qatar’s 50-plane A320neo order. Then Qatar refused to take delivery of any more A350s. That’s all water under the bridge, now. The first of 23 A350s still outstanding in Qatar’s order will be delivered this year and the A320neos will be ready in 2026, three years later than scheduled. It’s still not clear what was wrong with the paint.
Possibly some bad days in the paint shop in Toulouse. Or possibly aircraft left outside in the Arabian desert — data on whether that spell included a sand storm is disputed. Lawyers everywhere are weeping at the settlement.
Renoir came in with a hangover. The cancelling of a 50 aircraft order by the manufacturer strikes me as a questionable business decision.