EADS, the French aerospace company which owns 80% of aircraft giant Airbus, has posted a 52% jump in operating profit.
Airlines are still cautious about investing in new planes
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.