(Reuters) – Gulfstream jet maker General Dynamics Corp on Wednesday posted a 3.1% rise in first-quarter profit, as demand for private air travel during the COVID-19 pandemic remained high.

Cautious passengers who opted for private flights instead of commercial flights due to fears of contracting COVID-19 have helped drive U.S. private air traffic higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Business jet makers, eager to capitalise on that demand from wealthy travelers opting to fly private, have been ramping up production of their jets.

Sales in the company’s aerospace unit marginally rose to $1.9 billion from $1.89 billion a year earlier, while overall revenue remained at $9.39 billion.

Net earnings rose to $730 million, or $2.61 per share, in the first quarter, from $708 million or $2.48 per share, a year earlier.

(Reporting by Nathan Gomes in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)