Chinese airlines to win big on border opening

STORY: Chinese airlines look set to be the big winners as the country’s borders reopen.

That’s according to industry experts.

They say carriers there kept more planes and crews ready than overseas rivals.

Analysts at McKinsey say less than a fifth of China’s widebody fleet of around 500 jets are in storage.

Chinese airlines also kept on most pilots and cabin crew during the health crisis, while airports retained about 90% of workers.

That all should help avoid the chaotic post-lockdown ramp-up seen in Europe and the U.S.

State-owned Air China, China Southern and China Eastern all got financial support during the crisis period.

They also kept jets active on domestic routes, ready to be switched back to regional flights.

Foreign rivals may take longer to scale up again, after shedding staff and planes.

This week Qantas, Lufthansa, United Airlines and others all said they were examining their China plans.

But they didn’t announce any immediate plans to increase capacity on services to the country.

That may leave them struggling to cope with any rebound.

Right now flights to and from China are at just 8% of pre-crisis levels.

Ticket booking app Skyscanner says it expects volatile prices as travel returns.

McKinsey also reckons demand will come back faster than supply can increase.

That could mean higher ticket prices, and strong profits for those airlines ready to fly.