Qatar Airways asked to ground 13 Airbus A 350 jets due to engine problem

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DUBAI, Aug 5 - Qatar Airways has been asked by its regulator to ground 13 airbus A 350 planes due to a quicker than anticipated deterioration of the fuselage surface below paint on the aircrafts.

The state-owned Gulf Airline said on Thursday it had been ordered to ground the planes until the root cause can be determined and a satisfactory solution made available to permanently correct the underlying condition.

Qatar Airways has been locked in a month-long public dispute with Airbus, insisting it would not take delivery of the carbon-composite widebody jet until the problem was resolved.

With this latest development, we sincerely expect Airbus to treat this matter with the necessary attention that it requires, says Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker in a statement announcing the regulator's grounding of jets.

Qatar Airways expects Airbus to fix the root cause and permanently corrected the underlying condition to the satisfaction of Qatar Airways and our regulator before we take delivery of any further A 350 aircraft.

An Airbus spokesperson told Reuters the planemaker was always in talks with its customers but those conversations were confidential, declining to comment further.

Qatar Airways said in June that it had removed some of its A 350 jets until the issue could be resolved and understood, without disclosing how many aircraft had been grounded from service.

It said that it had brought A330 aircraft back into service to make up for the blown capacity on Thursday and was also looking at other solutions.

Qatar Airways is the largest customer for the A 350 and has delivered 53 out of 76 on order.

The airline has always criticised Boeing for delays or quality lapses on Airbus or its U.S. rival Boeing.

It says its standards reflect its premium brand, although aerospace executives have accused it of seizing on such details in the past to delay taking deliveries or gain leverage in other negotiations, a suggestion it has denied.

Many airlines have adjusted deliveries due to the pandemic-related travel downturn. In June 2020, Qatar Airways said it would not take Boeing or Airbus jets for 2020 or 2021 and later that year said it had reached a deal on airline schedule with Airbus.