European aircraft manufacturer Airbus has hailed a year of record orders despite the news its profit fell by 11% on the full year. 

The firm’s combined order intake was up 126% in 2023, totalling €186bn ($199bn). But while this figure will grab the attention of some, investors may be more concerned by the drops of more than 10 percent in vital financial statistics. 

Net income (as reported, otherwise known as profit) fell by 11%, as did earnings per share. While the dividend per share remained stable at €1.80, free cash flow also fell by 10%. 

However, its order book is categorically strong, with 2,094 aircraft orders in 2023 (after cancellations) compared to its 2022 figure of 820 aircraft orders. Airbus Helicopters also saw growth, with registered 393 orders up from 362 units in 2022. 

“In 2023 we recorded strong order intake across all our businesses and we delivered on our commitments. This was a significant achievement given the complexity of the operating environment,” said Guillaume Faury, Airbus CEO.

“We will continue to invest in our global industrial system, while progressing on our transformation and decarbonisation journey. Our dividend proposals are a reflection of the strong 2023 financials, our growth prospects in 2024 and balance sheet strength.”

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While adjusted EBIT grew overall, Airbus’s commercial base and Helicopter divisions helped prop up the Defence & Space sector, which recorded a 40% decrease. 

The firm’s central business remains commercial passenger aircraft, and with a bumper order book to fulfil Airbus provided an update on its production schedules. 

On single-aisle aircraft, the company said: “The A220 ramp-up continues towards a monthly production rate of 14 aircraft in 2026, with a focus on the programme’s industrial maturity and financial performance. On the A320 Family programme, production is progressing well towards the previously announced rate of 75 aircraft per month in 2026. 

“On widebody aircraft, the Company continues towards a monthly rate of 4 aircraft for the A330 in 2024 and rate 10 in 2026 for the A350,” Airbus added. 

Airbus explained the full outlook led to its updated outlook for 2024

“[T]he Company targets to achieve in 2024:

Around 800 commercial aircraft deliveries;

EBIT Adjusted between € 6.5 billion and € 7.0 billion;

Free Cash Flow before Customer Financing(3) of around € 4.0 billion.”

The company will hold its AGM in April, where the board will propose the continued per share dividend of €1.80 ($1.93) and a special dividend of €1 ($1.07) with a proposed payment date of 18 April.