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Airbus keeps targets as jet programmes on track

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Airbus Group said its main commercial jet programmes were on track and confirmed its full-year guidance on Thursday despite a dip in underlying first-quarter profit.

[PARIS] Airbus Group said its main commercial jet programmes were on track and confirmed its full-year guidance on Thursday despite a dip in underlying first-quarter profit.

Europe's largest aerospace group said it was pushing ahead with a production increase for its new A350 jet and that its revamped A320neo remained on schedule. The A380 superjumbo will break even as planned this year, it said in a statement.

After a boom in jet demand that accounts for the bulk of a roughly US$1 trillion stockpile of orders on the European company's books, Airbus and US rival Boeing are increasingly focusing on how to achieve higher production goals.

Airbus Group Chief Executive Tom Enders said the company would review capital allocation towards the end of the year as it proceeds with production plans and a series of asset sales.

First-quarter revenue fell 5 percent to 12.078 billion euros (S$17.7 billion) due to lower commercial plane deliveries that were partially offset by the impact of a weaker euro. Operating income before one-off items fell 7 per cent to 651 million euros.

Analysts had on average predicted operating profit of 647 million euros on revenue of 12.6 billion.

Commercial jet deliveries are expected to be "backloaded" towards the later part of the year, Airbus said.

It logged 134 plane deliveries in the first quarter, compared with 141 in the year-ago period.

Free cashflow swung to a positive 452 million euros in the first quarter from a negative 2.034 billion, swelled by the sale of part of Airbus's stake in Dassault Aviation.

Airbus said that based on its current view of production it would achieve breakeven in free cashflow in 2015 before mergers and acquisitions.

For 2015, Airbus also expects slightly higher deliveries and a higher order book. It sees higher revenue and a slight increase in core operating income before mergers and acquisitions.

Boeing last week said first-quarter net income rose to US$1.34 billion from US$965 million a year earlier. Revenue rose 8 per cent to US$22.15 billion.

REUTERS