BE AEROSPACE (BEA) claims that the long-awaited upturn in its fortunes is at last in sight, after returning a modest $1.4 million profit for the first quarter - the group's best quarterly performance in two years.

A year ago, the cabin-equipment group had posted a loss of $33 million as it battled with depressed refurbishment markets and delays in deliveries of its MDDS interactive inflight-entertainment (IFE) systems. Development spending on the system has now begun to fall while cost-cutting has also begun to feed through.

Chairman Amin Khoury identifies a clear "step up" in airline spending on aircraft, refurbishment and new IFE equipment. He adds that BEA ended its first quarter to May with a record backlog of $475 million.

Sales almost doubled, to $97 million, helped by the recent acquisition of Burns Aerospace. The underlying rise was around 27%, without Burns. BEA should receive another sales boost later this year as deliveries begin to British Airways.

Meanwhile, Interactive Flight Technologies (IFT), the latest arrival in the IFE market has reported its first-ever revenues, totalling $1.6 million. These came in the second quarter to the end of April, with the acceptance of the contract with Alitalia.

The cost of research and development on the digital interactive system is continuing to outweigh sales, however, leaving IFT showing a deficit.

IFT has since signed up Debonair, Oasis Airlines and Swissair. "We are in various stages of negotiation with several international and domestic carriers," says Michail Itkis, IFT's chief executive.

Source: Flight International