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IATA Director General Willie Walsh is worried about the feud between Airbus and Qatar Airways of the A350 paint quality issue, with the airframer terminating the contract for fifty A321neo’s that the airline placed in 2017. He commented on the issue when asked during a media briefing on January 25. IATA boss worried about Qatar-Airbus feud.

“A lot of other airlines would be looking at this to see how Airbus responds. Many will have seen the photographs of the Qatar A350s that it is concerned about. I think myself and a lot of other airline CEO’s will want to understand what has caused that issue”, said Walsh. Qatar shared a video of the paint on four A350s, a day after Airbus announced at a London High Court session that it would terminate a contract for the A321neo’s.

There is a bigger picture to be observed here, Walsh said: “Not to disrespect Embraer, but when you have two suppliers (Airbus and Boeing), we need to ensure there’s good health and competition. We have to recognize that Boeing has gone through some challenges and continues to have some, but the industry needs to have more credible suppliers and we need healthy competition between those. I would hate to think that one of the suppliers is taking advantage of its current market strength and exploiting its position. That’s something we are watching. The industry will be watching very carefully how this plays out. We want to see a strong Boeing and a strong Airbus.”

Asked if this was a direct reference to Airbus and that it is taking advantage of its current market position, Walsh said: “It was a more general statement. It has happened on very rare occasions that a manufacturer canceled a contract with an airline generally because the airline couldn’t afford to pay for the aircraft, which clearly isn’t the case with Qatar Airways. That’s the worrying development.”

Walsh added: “I have to be honest with you. I can probably list a hundred airlines that would have liked to terminate their contracts with Airbus in 2020 but Airbus was definitely not willing to allow those airlines to do so.”

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Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
In 2022, he has gone full-time freelance. Richard has been contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He is also writing for Airliner World and Aviation News. From January 2023, he will add a part-time role with Dutch website and magazine Luchtvaartnieuws. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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