x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Depa venture files Dh900m claim against Qatar’s new Doha airport

Lindner Depa Interiors, a joint venture between Depa and German partner Lindner, has filed a Dh900 million arbitration claim against Qatar’s New Doha Airport as a bitter legal row over the unfinished airport escalates.

Artists rendition of the the proposed $5.5 billion (4.18 billion Euro) New Doha International Airport. AP Photo/STR
Artists rendition of the the proposed $5.5 billion (4.18 billion Euro) New Doha International Airport. AP Photo/STR

Lindner Depa Interiors, a joint venture between Depa and German partner Lindner, has filed a Dh900 million (US$250 million) arbitration claim against Qatar’s New Doha Airport as a bitter legal row over the unfinished airport escalates.

Lindner Depa Interiors on Monday morning said that it had commenced the claim in the International Court of Arbitration in Paris over its losses.

Depa, which is 24 per cent owned by Dubai’s largest contract Arabtec, was sacked from its contract to fit out 17 lounges at the long delayed new airport in June last year.

The new airport has suffered a series of delays which pushed back the completion of the $15.5 billion hub by nearly four years and has resulted in a $1bn overspend.

“We consider the termination of our contract to have been wholly unfounded and the subsequent lack of response by the New Doha International Airport has left Lindner Depa Interiors with no choice but to seek Dh900 million in compensation through international arbitration,” Mohannad Sweid, Depa chief executive said in a statement.

“We have spent significant time and effort over the last nine months to resolve this matter amicably with the New Doha International Airport but without success. We must protect the interests of our shareholders by seeking justice and are confident that the Tribunal will eventually find in our favour.”

Qatar Airways was not immediately available to comment when contacted by The National this morning.

Speaking at the Iata World Cargo Symposium in Doha earlier this year, the Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker said the airline would claim “a very large amount” for delays to the project.

Lindner Depa has always denied that it was responsible for the delays and said that it was prevented access to the site for much of the construction period.

In December Qatar’s national carrier Qatar Airways said it was filing a $600m legal claim against Lindner Depa for delaying the airport’s opening by up to a year.

However, it has so far not done so. According to Arabtec’s latest financial report, its legal advisers have said that as Qatar Airways was not a direct party to the contract it has no grounds for jurisdiction.

In March Depa, which is 24 per cent owned by Dubai’s largest contractor Arabtec, reported a Dh119.6 million (US$32.6m) loss which the Dubai-based fit-out contractor blamed on the legal row.

Lindner Depa said that the contract was cancelled and its performance bond and advance payment guarantee pulled due to the joint venture’s refusal to accept new, non-favourable contract terms and conditions. It said these included dropping all extension-of-time claims and related costs incurred as a result of very lengthy delays to our works caused by others and acceleration costs.

As a result of these delays, Lindner Depa said it had not been able to start all of its interior contracting work on site as planned and could not meet its original contract completion date.

In its statement on Monday it added that “The termination of the contract and the subsequent public comments made against Lindner Depa by Mr. Akbar Al Baker, head of the NDIA steering committee and chief executive of Qatar Airlines in December 2012 and April 2013 caused significant financial and reputational damage to our company.”

lbarnard@thenational.ae