A350 support costs weigh on Airbus first quarter

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Airbus turned in first-quarter earnings of €527 million ($725 million), compared with €608 million last year, partly as a result of A350 support costs.

The airframer adds that the earnings were “weighed down” by “more front-loaded” research and development expenses.

Its revenues for the three-month period rose by 2% to €8.9 billion as it delivered 141 commercial aircraft. While Airbus acknowledges that deliveries were lower than the 144 in 2013, it says the aircraft mix was “more favourable” – including an extra pair of A380s.

Airbus expects to deliver around the same number of aircraft this year as last – including the first A350 – and achieve gross orders above the total deliveries.

The A350 programme is edging towards certification, although the fifth and final test aircraft is yet to conduct its maiden flight. Airbus says this will take place in the “coming weeks”.

Airbus’s four flying prototypes have clocked up more than 1,600h in over 350 flights, and two production aircraft are in the final assembly line at Toulouse.

Test aircraft MSN4 has recently carried out water-ingestion testing at Istres, at rolling speeds of up to 140kt, to ensure that the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-powered type can operate on wet runways.

Airbus states that “progress is being made” towards its target of production break-even on the A380.

It adds that it is “acting on” lessons from testing and in-service experience as six-year maintenance checks begin on the global fleet.

Parent company Airbus Group achieved revenues of €12.6 billion in the first quarter. Earnings before one-off considerations reached €700 million, compared with €734 million last year. Net income rose to €439 million.