After two years in the red, the European aircraft manufacturer published a net profit of 4.2 billion euros on Thursday, beating its 2018 record (3.1 billion) when it produced nearly a quarter of planes in addition.

“Our focus has shifted from managing the pandemic to recovery and growth,” said Airbus Executive Chairman Guillaume Faury, quoted in a statement.

The aircraft manufacturer is therefore returning to the payment of a dividend after having abolished it for the past two years.

The aircraft manufacturer's boss attributes these "remarkable" results to the increase in deliveries of commercial aircraft (611 aircraft, or 8% more than in 2020), to "the good performance" of space and defense activities as well as to the helicopter division and "the attention paid to cost reduction and competitiveness".

Deliveries are a reliable indicator of profitability in aerospace, with customers paying most of the bill when they take possession of the planes.

Turnover increased by 4%, to 52.1 billion euros, including 9.2 billion for defense activities.

From the start of the health crisis, Airbus had drastically reduced its production and announced 15,000 job cuts without layoffs – finally revised to nearly 10,000.

Airbus Executive Chairman Guillaume Faury, during a visit to the group's production site in Hamburg, Germany, January 18, 2022 DANIEL REINHARDT AFP / Archives

The group, which employed 126,000 people at the end of 2021, plans to recruit at least 6,000 this year.

Airbus, whose production had fallen by a third to 40 single-aisle A320 family (A319, A320 and A321) per month as of April 2020, was producing some 45 each month at the end of 2021 and plans to increase to 65 monthly aircraft at the end of 2021. summer of 2023, more than it has ever built.

"People want to fly"

In 2022, Airbus plans to deliver 720 aircraft, 18% more than in 2021.

It even plans to mount up to 75 monthly devices in 2025, a subject whose feasibility and interest are the subject of intense discussions with its suppliers.

Because the aircraft manufacturer can count on a solid order book.

This stood at the end of January at 7,036 devices, giving it many years of production ahead of it.

While air traffic remained moribund in 2021 and is only expected to return to pre-crisis levels between 2023 for domestic flights and 2025 for long-haul flights, "it has become clear that people want to fly again and they do so as soon as the travel restrictions are lifted,” said Guillaume Faury during a conference for analysts.

Despite a sharply deteriorated financial situation, airlines have therefore continued to take delivery and order new planes to ensure that they will be equipped with aircraft that are more fuel-efficient and therefore emit less CO2 to cope with the strong recovery of traffic expected eventually.

The Airbus stand at the Dubai Air Show, November 14, 2021 GIUSEPPE CACACE AFP

Compared to its pre-crisis level, global air traffic is expected to double by 2050.

Faced with Airbus, the American giant Boeing ended in the red for the third consecutive year, with 4.3 billion dollars in net loss, weighed down by manufacturing defects in its long-haul 787 Dreamliner, the setbacks of its tanker plane KC-36 and its Starliner space capsule.

In addition to deliveries and savings measures, Airbus' good results are also due to positive accounting adjustments totaling 447 million euros.

They are due in particular to the end of the A380 program and the reversal of provisions linked to its restructuring plan.

However, Airbus recorded new additional costs (212 million euros) for its A400M military transport aircraft program.

© 2022 AFP