Airbus net profit rises 34% in H1 to €1.5 bn

Airbus Group's net profits shot up 34 per cent in the first half of the year to €1.5 billion, boosted by the sale of its stake in fighter jet maker Dassault Aviation, the European aeronautics giant said today.

The group took a charge of €290 million from the Airbus A400M military transporter programme, due to a test flight crash near the Spanish city of Seville in May, which killed four people.

The costs suffered from the crash, which led to a brief grounding of the A400M, were offset by a net gain of €748 million from the sale of the group's 18.75 per cent share in business and fighter plane constructor Dassault Aviation.

"The half-year underlying results reflect our continued focus on programme execution and operational efficiency," said Airbus Group chief executive Tom Enders in a statement.

"Revenues, profitability and cash generation all improved, and the overall financial performance means we are on track to deliver our 2015 guidance."

Group revenues rose 6 per cent as against the same period in 2014 to €28.9 billion, lifted by strong sales of commercial aircraft.

The first six months saw the company receive 348 net orders for commercial planes as against 290 for the first half of 2014.

The company said demand for its single-aisle A320 plane, the company's biggest earnings driver, was sufficiently strong to further lift output, a move that would put additional pressure already-stretched suppliers.

Airbus had already announced plans to boost production of single-aisle planes to 50 a month by 2017, nearing the 52-a-month production planned for its own single-aisle 737 model by 2018.

A320 production now stood at 44 as Airbus started a shift toward building the newer A320neo.

''We clearly see potential for going beyond rate 50, the market is there, the market is stable, but we at Airbus have always been very prudent before we take ramp-up decisions,'' Bloomberg quoted Enders after Airbus reported earnings. ''I'm very confident that before the end of the year we'll take a decision.''

Airbus had been working to clear a backlog of aircraft orders from several years, with its A320neo the fastest-selling commercial airliner in aviation history.

Increasing production at factories in Germany, France, China and the US meant Airbus would be leaning heavily on suppliers, with partners such as engine maker Safran SA saying this week that it had hit the limit of its production capabilities.