Qatar Airways (QR, Doha Hamad International) and Airbus have settled a long-running and acrimonious legal dispute involving the A350, with both parties issuing statements in recent hours saying the legal claims are discontinued and the agreement will allow the two sides to "move forward and work together as partners."

"Qatar Airways and Airbus are pleased to have reached an amicable and mutually agreeable settlement in relation to their legal dispute over A350 surface degradation and the grounding of A350 aircraft," said the February 1 statement from Airbus. "A repair project is now underway and both parties look forward to getting these aircraft safely back in the air."

The settlement follows news of talks resuming between the airline and the aircraft manufacturer. Those talks, which followed a recent conversation between French President Emmanuel Macron and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani on the matter, were said to be civil and constructive. There was also a meeting in Doha last week between the two parties and their respective regulators, the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) and European Union Aviation Safety Agency, which also reportedly went well.

The settlement, which involves no admission of liability by either party, ends a dispute which has seen Qatar Airways sue Airbus for compensation for the prolonged grounding of portions of its A350-900 and A350-1000 fleet over surface paint degradation issues. In a countersuit, Airbus sued Qatar Airways seeking USD220 million dollars in damages and the return of a further USD185 million it had paid in credits to the airline to offset future aircraft orders. In addition, Airbus had cancelled the airline's outstanding orders for nineteen A350-1000s and fifty A321-200Ns.

According to ch-aviation fleets advanced data, 52 airlines worldwide fly the A350. While several carriers have raised concerns with Airbus over the surface paint problem and quietly reached agreements for compensation and/or repairs, only the QCAA had moved to ground planes and only Qatar Airways had taken the matter public. Meanwhile, Airbus recently made some design changes to the A350's fuselage surface, confirming that it has started using a new lighter type of perforated copper foil (a protective shield that fits between the fuselage and outer paint surface) that it hopes will solve the paint cracking issues.

While the terms of the settlement remain confidential, Airbus will restore the cancelled aircraft orders, with Reuters reporting that the A350-1000 deliveries will recommence this year but the A321-200N deliveries will be delayed until 2026. That report also suggested that Qatar Airways will receive a portion of the USD1 billion it had demanded as compensation for grounding the planes. The settlement also means potentially damaging information will not be aired in what was to be a highly anticipated legal showdown in London later this year.