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April 20, 2024
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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.
Richard is contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He also writes for Airliner World, Aviation News, Piloot & Vliegtuig, and Luchtvaartnieuws Magazine. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

7 thoughts on “IATA boss worried about Qatar-Airbus feud

  1. Where was Willie Walsh in 1995 (i.e. when Willie Walsh was busy climbing the corporate ladder at Aer Lingus), and where was British Airways from, say, 1970 to 1995, when Boeing controlled over 80% of market share (as late as 1995)*. I can’t seem to recall either Mr. Walsh or British Airways raise much concern, publicly at the time, whether or not the competition between the two American OEMs and the European OEM was healthy.

    Apparently, it’s always a problem when Airbus is stronger, but not when Boeing is stronger.
    It seems to me, therefore, that Willie Walsh has no credibility on the issue — and I’ve not even mentioned that Willie Walsh was more than happy to let Qatar Airways take a 20% stake in the IAG Group. Therefore, Willie Walsh is also not an unbiased “commentator”.

    * https://apjjf.org/-Tanaka-Sakai/2019/article.html

  2. Ask Willie Walsh about Taylor Hampton’s investigation into phone tapping email hacking of union officials at British Airways,then trying to blame someone else.

  3. Airbus has produced a faulty product, and they need to rectify it and minimise the inconvenience to their customers, without whom they would not exist. To instead throw a tantrum and cancel an unrelated order is just childish. I truly hope Qatar wins this. Apart from anything else, the traveling public is, I believe, safer on a Boeing product.

  4. This is a very trivial issue. There are no safety issues. Airbus to revisit the paint quality, process, substrate, and design to come out from this problem. It is not an issue to ground the aircraft

  5. Sometimes you have to weigh things in many ways. Be it pride, prestige, politics, or simply attitude. Qatar Airways has the right to complain but what they did in a nasty way and humiliating Airbus. Publicizing complaints is insulting the ego of Airbus. Airbus is not taking advantage but they are European who cannot deal with Akbar’s way of complaining by publicly showing to the entire world the bad image of Airbus.

  6. Product in discussion is not a child’s toy..!!! If we watch numerous accident investigation videos, “Quality issue” however small and seemingly trivial has to have an impact on human lives at 35k ft.
    Can Airbus start selling planes without painting, just to prove that it has no role whatsoever..
    I think , they have not understood the technical issue and simply want to use the clout to suppress a genuine concern from Qatar…let Chief of Airbus buy a luxury car ( which I assume he would have) with peeling paint…and let’s see if does not complain about …!!

  7. As Qatar Airways is set to become an all Boeing operator over the next decade, the European Commission will very likely restrict or suspend traffic rights for Qatar Airways in due course. The European Union wants to guarantee fair competition between airlines in the bloc by tackling unfair business practices by foreign airlines and their governments which cannot be addressed through open skies agreements. These include illegal government subsidies or favourable treatment when it comes to slot allocation, ground handling services, airport charges and refueling, among others. However, it’s important to note that several actors, such as the aviation manufacturing industries in Europe and the United States, have economic leverage over European governments and the US Government, respectively, and have up to this point opposed renegotiations of Open Skies agreements, which would decrease demand from the Middle East. With Qatar Airways not buying European made aircraft, nobody in Europe will vouch for Qatar Airways, an airline which obviously has long since been seeking unfair advantages through market-distorting business practices, such as social dumping, while expanding their capacity on many of the routes previously serviced by European carriers. With no lobbying efforts by Airbus on behalf of Qatar Airways, Qatar Airways will soon be locked out of the EU market; since it is 100% state-owned, supported by state aid, benefitting from access to cheap (airport) infrastructure, fuel and capital — in essence, a violation of EU rules and regulations on all counts.

    In contrast to the egomaniac Akbar Al Baker and his cadre of sycophants at the management of Qatar Airways, the astute management at Emirates Airlines, for example, know very well that in order for Emirates, as a global super-connector, to maintain or even increase frequencies into the EU or the United States, they have to roughly split their orders between Airbus and Boeing and maintain a good relationship to both OEMs. And in contrast to the highly subsidised Qatar Airways, which apparently has never been profitable, Emirates Airlines represents a whole different type of operation due to its high operating margins and an extraordinary competitive business model that benefits from extremely favourable competitive advantages, which is driving the success of Emirates Airlines compared to its U.S. and European rivals (as well as to the other Gulf carriers).

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