Airbus is on course to triumph over its rival Boeing this year in the annual aircraft delivery race after strong results showed increases in production output. Group revenues surged 24 per cent to €12.5bn, reflecting a rise in commercial aircraft deliveries and the increase in production.
In contrast, Boeing has had to scale back production because of the worldwide groundings of its best-selling 737 Max aircraft in the wake of two deadly crashes.
Airbus earnings jumped in the first quarter because of the increase in production. The European aerospace and defence group said adjusted earnings before interest and tax, which strip out material charges, rose from €14m to €549min the first three months of the year, beating analyst expectations.
However, extra charges related to Germany's suspension of defence export licences to Saudi Arabia took the shine off otherwise strong results. This contributed to an 86 per cent drop in quarterly ne tprofit to€40m.
Airbus said it delivered 162 commercial jets in the first quarter, including 126fromthebest-sellingA320family. Guillaume Faury, Airbus's new chief executive, gave a bullish outlook for commercial aircraft deliveries for the year, reiterating the group's guidance of delivering880to890jets.
The forecast stood in stark contrast to that of rival Boeing, which has cut production of the Max jet from 52 to 42 planes a month. The US company last week suspended its full-year delivery forecast because of uncertainty over when the jet will fly again.
Mr Faury declined to comment directly on whether Airbus had been approached by customers of the Max keen to switch to the competing A320neo since the crash of an Ethiopian airliner last month, saying only that “we see strong demand for the A320. That was the case before the event.”
He added that Airbus was “limited by production for the next years”. Airbus is increasing monthly output of the single aisle jet to 60 in the middle of this year and is targeting 63 a month in 2021.The company has previously said it is constrained in its ramp-up by strains in the supply chain.
The quarterly results were overshadowed by a €297mhit related to a Saudi contract as a result of the prolonged suspension of defence export licences to the kingdom by the German government. The bulk of the adjustments included a€190mimpairment charge.
As a result, reported ebit for the period slipped to €181m from €199m the year before. Net profit fell 86 per cent to €40m, while reported earnings per share dropped to €0.05 from€0.37 last year.
BY SYLVIA PFEIFER