PARIS -- European aerospace company EADS said strong deliveries by airplane maker Airbus helped drive higher earnings in the first quarter and laid out the hope that the new A350 long-range aircraft should make its first flight this summer.
The Airbus parent company, competitor of Chicago-based Boeing, also reaffirmed Tuesday its forecast of lifting commercial aircraft deliveries this year to between 600 and 610, as demand from Middle Eastern and Asian carriers to expand their fleets continues to drive sales for one of Europe's largest exporters.
EADS made a net profit for the January-March quarter of 241 million euros ($314 million), nearly double last year's equivalent of 126 million euros.
EADS CEO Tom Enders said in a statement the company "had a rather good start into 2013" and remained focused on improving profitability further "in 2013 and beyond."
Airbus delivered 144 aircraft in the first quarter, up from 131 in the same period last year. Last year Airbus delivered 588 aircraft, including 30 of its A380 superjumbos.
Airbus's revenue from commercial aircraft sales jumped nearly 16 percent in the quarter thanks to rising deliveries. Airbus' orders also continued to rise, with 410 net commercial aircraft orders in the quarter.
Airbus, which expects to take in around 700 orders this year, is preparing for the first flight of its new A350 long-range aircraft that is aimed at rivaling Boeing's 777 and 787.
In a call with reporters Chief Financial Officer Harald Wilhelm said Airbus is "more and more confident" that the A350 will make its first flight sometime this summer, after two years of delays blamed partly on the aircraft's new design, which makes use of unprecedented amount of lightweight carbon-fiber material.
EADS' overall revenue rose 9 percent to 12.4 billion euros in the first quarter. The company targets "moderate" revenue growth in 2013 and operating profit of 3.5 billion euros, well above the 3 billion euros booked in 2012.