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Qantas in Talks With Rolls-Royce to Recoup Losses

Qantas Airways Ltd., Australia’s largest airline, has begun talks with Rolls-Royce Group Plc to recoup financial losses from the grounding of its Airbus SAS A380 fleet after an engine malfunction last month, the carrier said, adding it may sue if a settlement can’t be reached.

The Sydney-based airline filed a statement of claim in the Federal Court of Australia today and won an injunction assuring it can pursue a lawsuit in Australia, Tom Woodward, a Qantas spokesman, said in a telephone interview. He said he couldn’t provide a copy of the statement of claim.

“Today’s action allows Qantas to keep all options available to the company to recover losses,” the airline said in a statement.

Qantas resumed the A380 passenger services last week for the first time since a Nov. 4 mid-flight explosion prompted a 23-day grounding of its six superjumbos. Singapore Airlines Ltd. and Deutsche Lufthansa AG are the only other carriers using the Rolls-Royce powerplant on the world’s largest passenger jet.

Qantas would probably prefer to settle its claim against Rolls-Royce amicably and avoid litigation, Justin McDonnell, a partner at Mallesons Stephen Jaques in Brisbane who specializes in aviation litigation, said in an interview before the airline filed the suit.

“Qantas and Rolls-Royce will have an ongoing relationship,” he said. “Rolls-Royce doesn’t want to be involved in litigation with all their airlines.”

Rolls-Royce’s London press office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Qantas seeks to recover the losses from the grounding of the jets as well as disruptions to its schedules, Woodward said. He declined to say how much the airline wants Rolls-Royce to pay.

Australia’s aviation regulator today recommended that Rolls-Royce address a “critical safety issue” in the Trent 900 engines, prompting Qantas to intensify inspections.

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