Airbus recorded a first-quarter profit of €362 million in another indication the COVID pandemic’s effects are slowly receding.
The strong result was driven by new orders for 39 new commercial aircraft orders and 40 helicopters, including two Super Puma Family rotorcraft and one H160. Meanwhile, its defence and space division’s order value was €2.0 billion.
“The good Q1 results mainly reflect our commercial aircraft delivery performance, cost and cash containment, progress with the restructuring plan as well as positive contributions from our helicopter and defence and space activities,” said Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury.
“The first quarter shows that the crisis is not yet over for our industry, and that the market remains uncertain. We are investing in innovation and in the transformation of our company to deliver on our long-term ambitions across the portfolio.”
The planemaker also announced it had delivered 125 aircraft in the quarter, including nine A220s, 105 A320s, one A330 and 10 A350s.
The results mark Airbus third profitable quarter in a row and came on the same day rival Boeing reported a net loss of $561 million for Q1 2021 on revenue of $15.2 billion. It marked the business’ sixth consecutive quarterly loss.
Impacting the results was a $318 million pre-tax charge related to its ongoing legal battle against subcontractor GDC Technics over the high-profile Air Force One refurbishment project.
Chief executive Dave Calhoun said he anticipates the company to return to positive cash flow in 2022.
Earlier this month, World of Aviation reported comments by Faury arguing that he predicts demand for medium-haul air travel would recover to pre-pandemic levels in 2023, far faster than long-haul travel.
The CEO said that some of the industry’s trusted narrow-bodied workhorses, including the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 families of aircraft, will lead the industry’s recovery, and that bigger jets are likely to continue to fall out of favour with airlines due to lack of demand and increased running costs.
Faury said on the Eurocontrol webcast on Tuesday that so far 2021 recovery prospects have been “very disappointing”, largely due to third-wave infections and mutant COVID strains that began to spread throughout Europe in January.