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Aviation

Airbus Group profits fly high on civilian aircraft boom

European aerospace company Airbus Group saw sales and profits surge on the back of strong demand for its civilian airliners in 2013. However, investors in the former EADS group had expected a better result.

Airbus Group profit rose 22 percent year-on-year in 2013, coming in at 1.5 billion euros ($2.06 billion), .

Earnings before interest, tax and depreciation (EBIT) climbed by 21 percent to 3.6 billion euros on the back of 5 percent higher sales, worth a total of 59.3 billion euros, the Toulouse-based company, which was formerly known as EADS, said.

The result had been burdened by a one-off charge of 434 million euros, reflecting higher costs for the group's A350 XWB aircraft program, Airbus said.

Airbus A350 completes maiden flight

Airbus' new A350 twin-aisle jet, which is to challenge rival Boeing's latest 787 Dreamliner, has cost around 10 billion euros and is planned to come into operation in the fourth quarter of this year. Qatar Airways is scheduled to take delivery of the first A350, for which Airbus said that it had received 820 orders so far.

The group's cash cow in 2013, however, continued to be its A320 single-aisle plane, Airbus said, adding that it was planning to increase production from 42 to 46 planes per month by 2016. 2013 was also bumper year for Europe's main planemaker in terms of new orders. Airlines ordered a record 1,503 planes- some 148 more than booked from its US rival Boeing.

However, Airbus is also in the midst of a major restructuring program aimed at downsizing its defense business amid falling military spending in the United States and Europe. Over the next two years, the group will slash 5,800 jobs as it is seeking to merge its military and space activities.

Therefore, Airbus Group said it was expecting just moderate returns on sales growth in the range of between 7 and 8 percent in 2014. The dividend for 2013 would rise by a quarter to 75 cents per share, the company added.

Both outlook and current results disappointed investors, resulting in a 1 percent loss in early trading of the share at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

uhe/dr (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)

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