The Qatari regulator has ordered the airline Qatar Airways to stop thirteen of its 53 Airbus A350s, due to a problem with deterioration of the surfaces under the paint. It will suddenly reactivate its Airbus A330s.
The issue made public in June between the Qatari national carrier based at Doha-Hamad International airport and the European aircraft manufacturer has seen a new episode. According to its August 5, 2021 press release, Qatar Airways « following the explicit written instruction from its regulator » is pinning thirteen A350s to the ground, « thus putting them out of service until the root cause can be established and a satisfactory solution is found to permanently correct the « primary cause » of the fault. In this case an « accelerated degradation of the surface under the paint » of the aircraft in question, eleven A350-900 and two A350-1000 according to Planespotters. « In addition to its regular checks to ensure the safety and security of its passengers and aircraft, Qatar Airways continues to closely monitor the condition of its Airbus A350 fleet », and « works with its regulatory body in order to guarantee the safety of all passengers ”.
In addition to the attention paid by the airline « to protecting its reputation of offering the highest levels of experience to its passengers », Qatar Airways clarifies that it cooperates with all leasing companies affected by the immobilization of the A350s « which have started to inspect their affected aircraft ».
The safety and security of its passengers « remain the first concern » of the Oneworld alliance company, which will do « everything in its power to ensure that its passengers are not inconvenienced by the squeeze-out of these devices and s ‘will endeavor to find alternative solutions in order to offer all passengers the usual quality of service ”. Qatar Airways has already taken measures to put its fleet of twelve A330s back into service (four A330-200s and eight A330-300s, six of which were immobilized according to the same source) « with immediate effect », in order to partially offset the impact of the ‘immobilization of the A350s, and « is currently studying other solutions ».
Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker said in the statement: “With this latest development, we sincerely hope that Airbus is handling this matter with all the attention it requires. Qatar Airways will only accept aircraft that can provide its passengers with the highest level of safety and the best possible travel experience. Qatar Airways is waiting for Airbus to establish the root cause and permanently correct it, so that our company and our regulator are fully satisfied with the conditions, before taking delivery of any other A350 aircraft. »
Remember that Qatar Airways had mentioned in early June the suspension of deliveries of long-haul jets (23 A350-1000 are still expected), and the immobilization of some aircraft. Some analysts then spoke of a public bluff to justify the postponements of deliveries announced as of September 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic; a « problem » could indeed play in the discussions on possible penalties if the new planes are not delivered as planned.
“We do not comment on the operations of our clients. As a major aircraft manufacturer, we are always in discussion with our customers. These discussions remain confidential ”, reacted Airbus in a press release. There is no doubt, however, that the matter is taken very seriously: the first deliveries of the A380 to Qatar Airways in 2014 had already been delayed due to a cabin finish problem …