European aircraft maker Airbus Group SE yesterday said it plans to ramp up production of its best-selling A320 airplane as overall profit climbs sharply.
Airbus also revealed it is launching a 1 billion euro (US$1.1 billion) buyback of its own shares.
Citing a “healthy” commercial aircraft market, Airbus said it was increasing output of the popular single-aisle A320 family to 60 aircraft per month in mid-2019, up from just more than 42 per month now.
The new goal exceeds rival Boeing Co’s own target of 52 single-aisle 737s.
Airbus said it plans to build an additional production line for the airplanes in Hamburg, Germany, to accommodate the higher build rate.
The announcement came just a day after state-owned China Aviation Supplies Holding Group (中國航材) signed a deal to buy 100 A320s, worth US$9.7 billion at list prices.
Airbus said net profit rose 42 percent from a year earlier to 376 million euros in the three months to Sept. 30, as it reaped the benefit of strong sales and a firm US dollar.
Sales rose 6 percent to 14.1 billion euros over the period.
“We again increased revenues, profitability and cash generation due to a good operational performance. We’re on track to deliver on our full year guidance,” Airbus CEO Tom Enders said in a statement.
The Toulouse, France-based company kept its full-year guidance, predicting “slightly” higher deliveries this year, and growth in the order book for commercial aircraft. Sales and operating profit before some items, as well as earnings per share and the dividend are also to rise, it said.
Airbus’ board had decided to start the 1 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 airplane orders over the first nine months of the year soared 42 percent to 112 billion euros, the group said.
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