Airbus ramps up A320 output as profits climb
European aircraft maker Airbus announced Friday it will ramp up production of its best-selling A320 jet as overall profits climb sharply.
Airbus, like its main rival Boeing, is enjoying strong sales in a "healthy" international market for passenger aircraft.
In a sign of Airbus' confidence in its financial position, the group also revealed it is launching a 1.0-billion-euro ($1.2 billion) buyback of its own shares.
Citing a robust commercial aircraft market, Airbus said it was increasing monthly output of the popular single-aisle A320 family to 60 in mid-2019 from just over 42 now.
The Airbus production target eclipses that of Boeing, which aims to raise monthly output of its single-aisle 737 from 42 now to 52 in 2017.
The news came a day after state-owned China Aviation Supplies Holding Group signed a deal to buy 100 A320 aircraft, worth $9.7 billion at list prices.
Airbus has also signed a letter of intent in a 750-million euro deal to sell to China 100 of its versatile H135 twin-engined helicopters, often used by emergency services, a source close to the matter said Friday.
The firm dubbed the accord, under which it will open a facility in the eastern city of Qingdao to assemble the helicopters, a "major step forward for Airbus Helicopters in China," one which "consolidates its position as the leading helicopter manufacturer in the Chinese market."
Airbus said group net profit rose 42 percent from a year earlier to 376 million euros in the three months to September 30 as it reaped the benefits of strong sales and a firm dollar.
The Toulouse, France-based group said sales rose six percent to 14.1 billion euros in the three months. The figure is still substantially less than the $25.85 billion in sales reported by Boeing in the same period.
"We again increased revenues, profitability and cash generation due to a good operational performance," chief executive Tom Enders said in a statement.
Airbus' board had decided to start the one-billion-euro share buyback immediately, he said, prompted by progress in the business, divestments and the company's cash position.
The share buyback should be complete by June 30 next year, Enders said.
New aircraft orders over the first nine months of the year soared 42 percent to 112 billion euros, the group said.
Airbus is also pushing up production of its new twin-aisle A350, which it said was "challenging".
The group said it expects to break even on the double-decker A380 superjumbo this year.
Airbus predicted the world economy and air traffic would grow this year with no major disruptions.
"Airbus deliveries should be slightly higher than in 2014 and the commercial aircraft order book is again expected to grow," it said.
The group said it anticipated higher revenues and a "slight increase" in underlying operating profit this year.
Airbus shares stood up 4.40 percent mid-afternoon at 63.36 euros.
© 2015 AFP