Airbus seeks new talks with European nations over A400M costs

The German government, the main customer for Airbus' military aircraft, for its part urged the firm to live up to its contractual obligations and deliver the promised A400M jets.

Airbus Group's profit more than halved in 2016 as the aerospace company booked a €2.2 billion charge for its troubled A400M military transport aircraft. "We must stop the bleeding and de-risk the program", said chief executive officer Tom Enders during the company's annual results media briefing today.

Airbus won a 3.5 billion euro bailout from seven European NATO nations in 2010 after being saddled with liability for wild cost overruns on its engines. The company - now in mid-restructuring as it reorganises itself from "Airbus Group" to "Airbus" - says it achieved its overall performance targets but had to take a further charge of €2.2bn on the A400M programme, on top of the €841m booked over the two preceding years. Enders blamed the plane's problems on misguided decisions made at the birth of the program in the early 2000s and exacerbated by problems with engine suppliers and delivery delays that led to big financial penalties.

The comments came as Airbus wrote to the core buyers - Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey - formally requesting discussions over the contract revisions.

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Airbus announced late a year ago it was cutting more than 1,100 jobs in France and Germany and closing a research facility near Paris as part of a cost-cutting drive.

"It is likely to be important for Airbus to reassure investors that the company is close to the end for this stream of significant charges", said Raymond James analyst Harry Breach in a note to investors.

The costly A400M problems overshadowed stronger than expected full-year net earnings of 995 million euros boosted by record deliveries of commercial airliners though there was a drop in orders. But bottlenecks in the A350 supply chain had improved and its output targets remained on track.

It foresees a rise in deliveries in 2017 to more than 700 planes, up from 688 a year ago.

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