Airbus said it expects to make more profit than previously predicted in 2021 after a strong performance in the first nine months of the year.

The European manufacturer said it is now aiming for adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of €4.5 billion ($5.2 billion), compared with a previous expectation for €4 billion ($4.6 billion). It also upgraded its free cash flow target to €2.5 billion ($2.9 billion) from €2 billion ($2.3 billion).

In the first nine months of the year, Airbus reported adjusted EBIT of €3.4 billion ($3.9 billion), compared with a loss of €0.1 billion in 2020. 

The company said the improved results were down to increased deliveries and a focus on cost cuts. 

Airbus delivered 424 aircraft by the end of September, including 34 A220, 341 A320 Family, 11 A330, 36 A350 and 2 A380. 

It maintained a target to deliver 600 commercial aircraft in 2021. 

The manufacturer also said it is on track to achieve a monthly production rate of 65 A320 family aircraft by summer 2023. It is planning to produce 45 of its best-selling aircraft a month in the fourth quarter of 2021. 

Airbus has met with criticism from suppliers over its plans to increase aircraft production following the COVID-19 downturn. Before the pandemic, suppliers had struggled to keep up with plans for higher production rates. 

“We are focused on securing the A320 Family ramp up and striving to ensure the right industrial and supply chain capabilities are in place,” Chief Executive Officer Guillaume Faury said in a statement.

Airbus also updated production rate plans for the widebody A350 and A330 aircraft. It now wants to increase the A330 rate to almost three aircraft per month at the end of 2022, from its current average of two. Meanwhile, plans to increase A350 production to six aircraft per month from five have been pushed back to early 2023. Airbus had previously said it wanted to increase A350 production to six by autumn 2022.