The task of keeping development of the new Airbus A350XWB airliner on track for service entry in the second half of 2014 “remains challenging,” the European airframer’s parent company EADS acknowledged at a press conference today. According to EADS chief financial officer Harald Wilhelm, “There is no room left in the schedule” to achieve A350 certification according to the revised timetable, but the company remains confident of achieving a first flight “this summer.”
Announcing increased revenues and profits for 2012 on February 27, EADS reported that its earnings before interest and tax of €3 billion ($3.9 billion) for 2012 were dented by a €251 million ($331.3 million) charge associated with engineering work needed to fix a problem with cracked wing rib feet on the A380 and by a previously disclosed €124 million ($162.4 million) charge covering delays in the A350XWB program.
Nonetheless EADS group revenues climbed 15 percent, to €56.5 billion ($74 billion), and net income was up by 19 percent at €1.2 billion ($1.6 billion) and record Airbus deliveries of 522 aircraft last year were a big contributor to this result. Net income was also boosted by a strengthening U.S. dollar, which boosted Airbus income from aircraft sales.
However, EADS chief executive Tom Enders told reporters in Berlin that the group, which also includes Eurocopter, defense division Cassidian and space unit Astrium, still has work to do to improve its bottom line. “Going forward, the focus on the bottom-line growth remains our priority number one as a management team,” he commented. “And there’s still some way to go to meet our profitability targets.”
Enders expressed hope that changes to the EADS management structure beginning at the end of March, which should see the influence of the company’s French and German government shareholders reduced, will clear the way for further improvements to its efficiency. “If anything the new governance, the new shareholder structure and the new board as of the end of March will further energize the company and its employees on their successful international growth path,” he concluded.