Singapore Airlines says it hasn’t had any problems with its Airbus A350 aircraft and has no plans to stop flying the aircraft over safety concerns raised by Qatar Airways. Last week, Qatar Airways said it had grounded around a third of its A350 fleet over an issue with the surface just underneath the paint surface that is allegedly “degrading at an accelerated rate”.
Qatar Airways was the launch customer of the Airbus A350 and first started flying the aircraft type in January 2015. Singapore Airlines took delivery of its first A350 around one year later and has since become the largest operator of the aircraft type with a total of 56 A350-900 jets in its fleet.
Other early adopters of the twin-engine long-haul aircraft include Vietnam Airlines, Finnair, Delta Air Lines and Cathay Pacific. None of these airlines has flagged any potential problem with the fuselage of their A350’s and continue to operate the aircraft type.
In a statement, Singapore Airlines said it “has not experienced the issues reported in media articles” concerning the Qatar Airways A350’s. The Doha-based airline has grounded 13 A350’s following an “explicit written instruction” from Qatar’s civil aviation regulator pending further investigative work from European aircraft manufacturer Airbus.
“With this latest development, we sincerely expect that Airbus treats this matter with the proper attention that it requires,” slammed Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker last week.
“Qatar Airways will not accept anything other than aircraft that continue to offer its customers the highest possible standard of safety and the best travel experience that they deserve.”
In contrast to the very public criticism levelled against it, Airbus has remained silent on the issue.
“Qatar Airways expects Airbus to have established 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 A350 aircraft,” Al Baker continued.
Qatar Airways tried to delay the delivery of new aircraft last year owing to the devastating effect on passenger demand caused by the pandemic. Al Baker said the airline would refuse to take on any new aircraft and that aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing would have to oblige Qatar Airways.
The airline did eventually take delivery of several new aircraft including three new A350 jets on the same day.
By Joe Cusmano