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Airbus orders down, but profits up in first quarter

Airbus profits doubled in the first quarter compared to last year, but Airbus took nearly four times as many orders last year. Orders are likely to rise as the long-delayed Airbus 350 takes flight in late 2014.

Airbus reported strong profit growth for the year's first quarter. Shares rose six per cent Tuesday on news that first-quarter profits hit 439 million euros ($604 million), nearly doubling profits earned in Q1 2013. Profits were higher despite the company's delivering fewer jets compared to the same quarter a year earlier - 141 rather than 144 airliners.

The leap in profits is mostly a result of one-off financial factors, including a favorable exchange rate environment and changes to the company's share-buyback programme.

Orders are down - for now

On the downside, new orders in the company's core airliner business slumped compared to the same period a year earlier. In the first quarter of 2013, Airbus took orders for 410 new airliners; in Q1 2014, for just 103.

But that could change once the new Airbus 350 is ready for the market.

Airbus A-350 completes maiden flight

The A350 is meant to compete directly with Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, which has a two-year head start. After years of cost overruns and delays, the A350 is expected to complete certification in Q3 2014, according to Airbus Chief Financial Officer Harald Wilhelm.

The company also confirmed plans to axe 5,800 jobs as part of a major restructuring of its military and space division ADS (Airbus Defense and Space).

js/hg (dpa, Reuters)

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