PARIS, France: Following an 18 month controversy that exposed the workings of the global jet market, Airbus and Qatar Airways have settled a dispute over grounded A350 jets, averting a potentially damaging UK court trial.
The "amicable and mutually agreeable settlement" could be the end of a $2 billion row over surface damage caused by skin degradation on the long-haul jets, which led to the canceling of billions of dollars' worth of plane contracts by Airbus and increased purchases of Boeing jets by Qatar.
Under the new agreement, the cancelled orders for 23 undelivered A350s and 50 smaller A321neos have been restored, and Airbus is also expected to pay several hundred million dollars to the Gulf airline, while winning a reprieve from other claims.
Financial details have not been not publicly disclosed.
After threatening combined claims and counter-claims worth some $2 billion, ahead of a potential June trial, neither companies admitted liability, but both promised to drop claims and "move forward and work together as partners."
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire lauded the deal, stating, "It is the culmination of significant joint efforts. It is excellent news for the French aerospace industry."
In 2021, Reuters launched an investigation that revealed other airlines had been affected by A350 skin degradation issues, all of which said it was "cosmetic."
The dispute has shed light on the design of modern carbon-fibre jetliners, which do not interact as smoothly with paint as do traditional metal aircraft.