Qatar Airways (QR, Doha Hamad Int'l) has rejected Airbus's claims that it owes the manufacturer USD220 million for the two A350-1000s it refused to take, Bloomberg has reported.

The Qatari carrier argued that it was not in breach of their contract by refusing to take delivery of the two aircraft. It also underlined that Airbus did not provide any justification for how it quantified the damages owed.

The airline refused to accept any more A350s after the Qatari Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) grounded 22 of its A350s due to fuselage paint degradation, which exposed anti-lightning mesh. As the two A350-1000s' contracted delivery dates came and went, Airbus cancelled the commitments and sued the airline for USD220 million in damages.

While the airline acknowledged the problem, it maintains that it does not represent an airworthiness issue. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) supports the manufacturer's position, although Qatar Airways argues that the regulator's scrutiny was not "extensive" enough. While other carriers have reported similar issues with their A350s, the QCAA remains the only regulator to have grounded the type.

Qatar Airways has sued Airbus for damages by now exceeding USD700 million in relation to the grounding. The escalating tussle between the two sides also saw the manufacturer unilaterally terminating Qatar Airways' order for fifty A321-200neo, a step that the airline is trying to invalidate in court. Airbus underlined that the order's cancellation would not allow it to accelerate deliveries for other carriers as "some customer attrition" was always factored into projected delivery timelines.

The ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows that Qatar Airways operates thirty-four A350-900s and nineteen -1000s, and has a further twenty-one -1000s on firm order from Airbus.