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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 May, 2004, 06:50 GMT 07:50 UK
Strong Airbus sales bolster EADS
Airbus A320
Airlines are still cautious about investing in new planes
EADS, the French aerospace company which owns 80% of aircraft giant Airbus, has posted a 52% jump in operating profit.

During the first three months of 2004, EADS made 198m euros (293m; $235m), mainly thanks to a strong performance from Airbus.

Last year, the European plane maker - minority-owned by Britain's BAE Systems - overtook US rival Boeing.

Not all is well, however: overall orders are down sharply this year.

New orders in the first quarter were down 69%, and Airbus expects to book just 250 new orders in 2004, compared with 284 in 2003.

EADS's other main businesses - defence and space - both posted modest losses during the quarter.

The firm remains relatively confident, however; it had prepared for a slowdown in airline demand, and looks likely to remain ahead of Boeing because of the launch of its new wide-bodied jet, the A380.

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