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Airbus profit up on Dassault sale but orders down

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PARIS (AP) — European planemaker Airbus says it has seen its profit jump in the first quarter thanks to the sale of a stake in rival Dassault Aviation, though its plane orders and deliveries fell slightly.

Airbus reported net profit of 792 million euros ($871 million) in the first quarter, compared with 439 million euros a year earlier.

Through the first three months of the year Airbus logged 101 net new orders for jetliners, compared with 103 a year ago, and 110 for chief rival Boeing in the first quarter of 2015.

Airbus revenues in the quarter were 12.1 billion euros, down from 12.6 billion euros in the first quarter 2014. The company said the weaker euro helped offset lower delivery volume.

Airbus is forecasting slightly higher orders and deliveries this year.

Last year, Airbus delivered a record 629 commercial aircraft, three more than in 2013 but well below the 723 jets Boeing delivered in 2014. Airbus' 2014 accounts were weight down by a 551-million-euro charge due to delays on its military division's A400M transport plane.

Boeing has said it targets 750 to 755 commercial jet deliveries in 2015.

Airbus is ramping up production of its in-demand single-aisle A320 series of jets, announcing plans in February to lift output to 50 jets a month in 2017 from a planned 46 per month next year.

Boeing and Airbus are benefiting as airlines use some of their record profits to buy new and more fuel-efficient jets. Boeing executives predict that increased travel, new routes and airline growth will bolster plane sales for years to come.

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