The judge told a section of the London High Court that there was “public interest” in the outcome of the dispute, with the Gulf airline questioning the safety of about two dozen A350 long-haul aircraft that have been stranded due to defects in their fly. protective skin.
Airbus has admitted that these and other jets suffer from painted surface erosion and a layer of lightning protection, but insists they are safe with the support of European regulators, despite Qatar’s refusal to accept more deliveries.
“I have absolutely no doubt that this case is going to court as soon as possible,” said Judge David Waksman, who supported the airline’s demand for a speedy trial.
However, he rejected a request from the airline to split the process into two parts to allow Airbus to conduct a more in-depth technical analysis, something the aircraft manufacturer says it has already done.
He also refused to order Airbus to formally stop the attempt to supply more A350s to Qatar Airways, or to refrain from reselling non-delivered aircraft as the dispute drags on.
The procedural decision means that Airbus is free to try to enforce payment clauses as more aircraft are built. Airbus may also try to sell A350s, which Qatar has refused to sell, to airlines such as Air India, which could act as a buyer, according to industry sources.
The clauses are part of thousands of confidential documents that are likely to come under investigation during the trial when two of the industry’s most powerful players meet in an open courtroom.
Qatar Airways has questioned the plane’s defense against lightning strikes, which hit commercial jets about once a year, and is suing Airbus for $ 1 billion in compensation for stationary planes.
Airbus has filed a lawsuit to repay millions of dollars in credit given for the sale of jets, accusing Qatar of refusing aircraft as a means of tackling overcapacity.
Qatar Airways said an “expedited trial (would) ensure a speedy resolution of this unprecedented dispute” and allow it to assess the cause of the damage to planes that have plagued Qatar.
Airbus welcomed the airline’s blocking of requests for a court order and again called for a settlement. “It is not in any of the parties’ best interests to continue the trial,” it said.
Waksman urged both sides to have a “reflection period” between now and June next year, with a window to the trial opening.
“Right now, this case looks insoluble – that may change,” he said.
He spoke to a courtroom filled with representatives of leading law firms and lamented the legal circus surrounding the collapse of one of aviation’s closest commercial partnerships.
“The cost to both sides is far too high in my opinion. Too much time is being spent on this,” he said.
Other airlines will continue to fly the A350 after European regulators confirmed the design.
The dispute escalated in January when Airbus revoked a separate contract with Qatar for smaller A321neo jets.
Subject to a settlement, the full process is expected to include both the A350 and A321neo contracts and examine technical and commercial decisions dating back to Qatar Airways’ agreement to launch the A350 as its largest customer in 2007.
The public division has privately raised concerns from top officials in Qatar and France, where Airbus is based, but so far none of the states have intervened directly, diplomats say.