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Qatar Airways says all A350s flying again, a year after Airbus legal dispute

By Ilona Wissenbach

BERLIN (Reuters) - Qatar Airways has finished bringing its fleet of Airbus A350 jets back into service, more than year after settling a rare legal dispute with Airbus over damage to their painted surface, a senior airline executive said on Tuesday.

"We see opportunities by having more aircraft coming into the fleet", the airline's Chief Commercial Officer Thierry Antinori told Reuters at the ITB travel fair in Berlin.

"So we see a lot of potential between Europe and Asia, Europe and Australia, Europe and Indian Ocean and Africa."

Qatar Airways had taken the unusual step of publicly challenging the world's largest planemaker Airbus over safety after paint cracks exposed gaps in a sub-layer of lightning protection on its new-generation A350 carbon-composite jets.

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Backed by European regulators, Airbus consistently denied any safety threat. The airline and planemaker resolved the feud last year, averting a court trial.

The A350 fleet is now completely repaired and back in air, he said. "You know we had this little issue. This is solved now. Since last week they are repaired and are back in the sky."

Traffic was also set to recover and even grow, with a strong summer ahead, Antinori said.

In January and February Qatar had 7.2 million passengers, 31% more than in the first two months of the previous year and 40% more than before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

(Writing by Joanna Plucinska, Editing by Louise Heavens)