Airbus CFO says A350 in challenging phase, tweaks A380

Reuters

PARIS (Reuters) - Airbus Group is entering a critical phase in the development of its new A350 passenger jet but flight tests are going well, Finance Director Harald Wilhelm said on Tuesday.

"The A350 is in a critical phase, and challenges and risks remain," he told reporters after unveiling a narrower-than-expected drop in quarterly profit.

Airbus is taking advantage of the first heavy maintenance overhauls of its A380 superjumbo, after just over six years in service, to incorporate some improvements following recent glitches that include problems with door noise, he said.

Airbus still aims to break even on the jet in 2015 and expects to deliver 30 of the double-decker planes per year in both 2014 and 2015, he added.

Wilhelm reaffirmed plans to cut 5,800 jobs as part of a restructuring of the company's defense and space division, and said he expected talks with unions to be completed in mid-year.

Asked about a strong lead held by Boeing in plane orders so far this year, Wilhelm said quarterly market share was less important to Airbus than having a healthy order book.

(Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by James Regan)

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