Qantas is moving to recover costs from its recent A380 woes from Rolls-Royce, manufacturer of the Trent 900 engine which exploded on its QF32 flight (see the leaked pics) and subsequently grounded the airline's entire Airbus A380 superjumbo fleet.
Those costs have been estimated at exceeding A$130 million based on repairs to the QF32 aircraft along with lost business and service disruptions as Qantas moved to juggle other planes in its fleet to back-fill against the grounded A380 on high-capacity routes to the USA, Singapore and London.
The total bill could soar even higher once factors such as the cost to Qantas' reputation are taken into account.
At several previous press conferences Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has maintained that once the immediate A380 situation was past the airline would begin discussions with engine-maker Rolls-Royce on the matter of compensation.
That's now clearly on the cards, with Qantas today advising that it has "commenced discussions with Rolls-Royce on a range of issues concerning the A380 fleet, including financial and operational impacts, as a consequence of the QF32 Trent 900 engine failure on 4 November 2010, and will also consider legal options."
Those options are covered by Qantas filing a statement of claim with, and being granted an injunction by, the Federal Court of Australia "which will ensure that the company can pursue legal action against Rolls-Royce in Australia, particularly under the Trade Practices Act, if a commercial settlement is not possible", according to a media statement issued late this afternoon.
"Today's action allows Qantas to keep all options available to the company to recover losses, as a result of the grounding of the A380 fleet and the operational constraints currently imposed on A380 services."
Qantas is also undertaking further one-off inspections of its Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines for "possible defects" following what the airline describes as "the results of a detailed examination of components from the engine involved in the QF32 incident and recommendations by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and Rolls-Royce."
Qantas currently has two factory-fresh A380s in service pending an engine replacement-and-refit program for the other six superjumbos in the fleet. The A380s are restricted to the Sydney-Singapore-London 'Kangaroo route', with services to Los Angeles operated by Boeing 747s.
About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.