Airbus says it's harder to hit the target of jet delivery for bugs

PARIS (Reuters) – European aircraft manufacturer Airbus softened its most important jet delivery target on Wednesday, warning it would be a "bigger expansion" after a series of industrial problems.

The Airbus logo is on display as an Airbus Beluga XL cargo plane prepares to take off during its first flight event on 19 July 2018 in Colomiers, near Toulouse, France. REUTERS / Regis Duvignau

The cautious tone of deliveries driving sales and profits came in spite of the better-than-expected core earnings of Europe's largest aerospace company in the third quarter.

The manufacturer of jetliners, satellites and helicopters said it had achieved an adjusted operating profit of € 1.576 billion in the quarter with sales of € 15.451 billion.

On average, analysts anticipated adjusted third-quarter operating income of € 1.441 billion on revenues of € 15.316 billion, according to a Reuters survey.

Airbus was struggling with new industrial problems as the production of the fast-selling A321neo passenger aircraft in Hamburg was difficult to achieve, although bottlenecks on some engine manufacturers eased.

The new problems, which coincide with a queue of aircraft still waiting to be equipped with engines and delivered after engine delays, were first reported by Reuters.

"There is still a lot to be done by the end of the year to fulfill the commitments," Airbus said.

It maintained its main target of around 800 commercial deliveries in 2018, but said that this would now include 18 deliveries of the recently acquired A220-class Bombardier CSeries.

Boeing also had some industrial problems, but the world's largest plan maker posted a profit that exceeded expectations last week.

The commercial aerospace industry is in its eighth year of widespread recovery, but there are some concerns about the airline's profitability, which normally drives aircraft orders, said Hong Kong Airline Economics Conference spokesman this week.

Planemaker and its suppliers, however, are driving production to record levels based on new eight-year aircraft orders, and their focus is on ironing out bugs in an already-stretched global supply chain.

Airbus said deliveries are a top priority.

(In this story, paragraphs 1 and 8 are amended to show that while the headline target remains unchanged, it now includes recently acquired Bombardier CSeries (A220) jets.

Coverage by Laurence Frost and Tim Hepher; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Susan Fenton

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