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Airbus Group lifts A330 output goal as profits meet expectations

Airbus Group (AIR.PA) reversed part of its plans to cut production of a key aircraft model due to a rebound in demand, a move likely to generate extra cash as it posted 2015 profits in line with expectations on Wednesday.

The European planemaker said it would make seven of its A330 wide-body jets a month from 2017, having recently cut output from 10 a month to nine, and then six, as it prepares to make a transition to the new A350 jetliner.

The move to claw back part of the production of one of its most profitable aircraft came weeks after Iran agreed to buy 45 A330 jets as part of a $27 billion deal following the lifting of sanctions.

Airbus said the industrial ramp-up of the A350 remained challenging, as was the “industrial efficiency and military capability” of its A400M military transporter.

Europe’s largest aerospace group said 2015 operating earnings before one-off items rose 2 percent to 4.132 billion euros ($4.55 billion) as revenue gained 6 percent to 64.450 billion. Analysts were on average predicting core profit of 4.114 billion on sales of 64.736 billion.

Airbus Group said it expected stable underlying operating profit and cashflow this year. For 2015, it posted free cashflow of 2.8 billion euros, including 1.7 billion from the proceeds of the sale of a stake in Dassault Aviation (AVMD.PA), and proposed raising its dividend 8 percent to 1.3 euros a share.

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