Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said that the airline would consider Boeing aircraft for all future needs in an unfortunate turn of events. He expressed his lack of interest in Airbus A350 aircraft in a keynote speech delivered at Aviation Club UK.
Qatar Airways was looking forward to expanding its portfolio, primarily new generation freight solutions. The airline needed 30 aircraft for its fleet renewal program. The aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing were launching new generation freight solutions, and both were under the consideration of Qatar Airways.
However, the recently emerged paint degradation issue of Airbus A350 passenger jets has proved detrimental to Airbus. According to Qatar Airways CEO, Airbus has suggested that the copper foil used as a lightning conductor on the A350 fuselage is the reason for the paint degradation. “It could require the European planemaker to seek new regulatory approvals for its top-selling wide-body,” he said.
“When we even change the armrests of our seats, it has to be recertified. Does Airbus realize -- I’m not getting into detail because I could crucify them -- that when you replace such an important safety matter, don’t you need to recertify the aeroplane?” Al Baker said at the UK Aviation Club.
Qatar’s national carrier had to ground 20 of its 53 A350s due to the issue.
“They are working to find a solution, which means they don’t have a solution. They don’t have a solution because they don’t know why it is happening,” he added.
Airbus calls the issue 'cosmetic', assures no safety worry
Meanwhile, Airbus has confirmed that it is working with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency on the paint issue. Airbus calls the problems ‘cosmetic’, and there is no risk to A350s safety.
Qatar Airways is not the only airline that raised the issue. According to Reuters, at least five other airlines, including Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Cathay Pacific Airlines Ltd., had raised concerns about the same since A350 entered service.
With Airbus A350 out of the picture, Qatar Airways could now be considering Boeing 777XF for purchase. Boeing is yet to announce any plan for 777XF.