Final Qatar Airways A350 Takes Flight After Long Grounding

The last Airbus A350 of Qatar Airways, registered as A7-ALF, has finally returned to service, marking the end of a long and dramatic dispute between the airline and Airbus over paint degradation. After approximately two-and-a-half years of inactivity, the A350 flew passengers again on February 7. The saga began with a single A350-900, registered as A7-ALL, being sent to Shannon, Ireland, for repainting. Instead of a quick return to service, the jet ended up heading to Airbus in Toulouse with reports of issues found under the paintwork. Airbus described these as "irregularities on the surface coating. The issue is superficial/cosmetic and only visible when the top coat of paint is stripped".


The dispute between Qatar Airways and Airbus was ongoing for about two years, involving various accusations from both sides, halted deliveries, canceled orders, and a number of court hearings. A settlement was reached between the two parties at the beginning of 2023. Orders were reinstated, and as of May 12th, deliveries of new aircraft resumed.


The number of Qatar Airways Airbus A350s listed as 'parked' has been slowly decreasing over the past few months. Many jets spent between one and two years on the ground before going back into regular passenger services. However, other aircraft, such as the jet that started this dispute, remain inactive. The return to service of A7-ALF saw the final grounded A350 fly passengers once again, after being inactive for approximately two-and-a-half years. The aircraft was one of several dozen airframes that were grounded by Qatar's civil aviation authority amid a long and drawn-out dispute over safety concerns brought about by significant surface degradation.

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With the grounded A350s now back in service, Qatar Airways can finally move past the surface degradation saga. The return of this airframe to Doha and its subsequent return to service could be said to mark the very end of the long and dramatic surface degradation dispute between the airline and Airbus.

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