Beijing (AFP) – Chinese airlines have announced an unprecedented overhaul of their business model after the government announced last year it would allow foreign operators to compete on their domestic routes.
But the country’s leading domestic carrier, China Airlines, is already losing money to foreign carriers as it is forced to close hundreds of flights.
Its latest quarterly profit forecast for the current financial year, which ends on July 31, shows the airline’s loss for the year will be nearly 30 billion yuan ($4.8 billion).
The carrier’s chief executive, Lu Xueying, has already called for a review of its long-term strategy.
“There are no more foreign carriers,” Lu said.
“We will focus on our domestic business.”
China Airlines, which has a fleet of more than 20,000 planes, operates more than 120 airlines in more than 100 countries, mainly in China, the United States and Europe.
It operates routes in Australia, the European Union and China.
“In 2018, we are aiming to grow at double digits,” Lu told a news conference on Tuesday.
The carrier will cut the number of flights it flies each month from more than 2,500 to 2,100, down from about 3,500 currently.
“I don’t think there is a better situation in the world today,” Lu added.
“It’s a real, positive situation.
I hope we can achieve a successful outcome.”
China has made moves to boost competition among domestic carriers in recent years, including a ban on foreign carriers taking part in the government-sponsored Chinese Airlines (CA) airline.
But this year’s plan has been hailed by some as a big step forward for domestic airlines.
The move comes after the US announced a similar plan to allow foreign airlines to compete with its own, a move which China has rejected.
A China Airlines spokesman said the airline would have to work harder to convince foreign carriers to come aboard, and said the country would look for ways to improve its performance, not just to improve the performance of domestic airlines, such as in terms of operating efficiency.
China’s economy grew by 8.9% in 2018, according to the countrys Ministry of Commerce, but Lu said the increase was partly due to the government’s subsidy programme for airlines.
“China’s aviation industry is one of the most innovative in the region,” Lu was quoted as saying.
“We have a long-lasting development plan to boost the growth rate.
We will continue to do everything to make this industry stronger.”