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Airbus aims to double A350 output in 2016, sees A380 sales soon
[PARIS] Airbus Group said it was on track to deliver 15 A350 passenger jets this year and aimed to more than double that in 2016 as it focuses on the ramp-up for its newest passenger jet.
It also pledged to reach its goal of breaking even on the A380 superjumbo this year despite delivering fewer than the 30 aircraft it had planned.
Chief Executive Tom Enders said after reporting better-than-expected first-half earnings, led by the planemaking division, that getting key projects up and running was the top priority.
He predicted Airbus would reach an agreement with European governments this year on the timing and scope of delayed military features for the A400M transporter plane, for which Airbus took a new charge on Thursday.
"We have today an unprecedented transparency between company management and our customers on the A400M," he told reporters in a conference call, addressing an issue of communication that has caused costly disruption to the programme in the past.
Mr Enders said he was "very confident" Airbus Group would take a decision this year on whether to increase production of A320-family aircraft beyond existing plans for 50 a month. Some engine makers have warned Airbus and Boeing not to rush too quickly into extending already record output goals.
"We clearly see the potential for going beyond rate 50 but we have always been very prudent," Mr Enders said.
He said flight tests of the fuel-saving A320neo with Pratt & Whitney engines had resumed on Monday following a technical glitch earlier this year. Airbus still aims to deliver the first of the newly revamped aircraft this year.
The company is still deliberating whether to upgrade the A380 superjumbo with new engines, but meantime is confident of securing sales of the existing model this year, Enders said.
He also said talks to sell defence and space assets would accelerate in the second half as the group focuses its non-commercial activities on military aircraft and space.
Asked about production bottlenecks at aircraft seat makers, notably France's Zodiac, Finance Director Harald Wilhelm said this had caused problems for the availability of premium seats but would not affect Airbus deliveries in 2015.