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United Airlines sees strong international profits once borders reopen

Thu 21st January, 2021 6:01pm
By Tracy Rucinski
    Jan 21 (Reuters) - United Airlines  UAL.O  expects profit
margins from its international business to recover quicker and
stronger than those from domestic flying once borders reopen,
executives said on Thursday.
    That is largely because it expects demand to outstrip supply
in a pandemic-hit industry that has forced some airlines out of
business and others to retire many of the widebody jets
traditionally used for international flying. 
    And United, which along with other U.S. airlines is actively
lobbying the new U.S. government to lift international travel
bans, has the capacity to tap into that demand, Chief Commercial
Officer Andrew Nocella said on a quarterly conference call.
    "I add up all those facts. There are simply fewer wide-body
aircraft in the fleets around the world. There's, in particular,
fewer of the very large ones with the very large business class
cabins," Nocella said.
    He said United has been counting the number of Boeing 747s
and Airbus A380s that used to fly to the United States and are
no longer in global airlines' fleets and also alluded to one
competitors' withdrawal from the transatlantic market.
    Last week, Norwegian Air  NORR.OL , which less than a decade
ago challenged long-established rivals by launching
transatlantic flights, said it will end those services and seek
government help.
    Chicago-based United posted a deep quarterly loss on
Wednesday due to the pandemic but said it expects its profit
margins in 2023 to exceed 2019 level thanks to a cost-cutting

 (Reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Chicago
Additional reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by
Nick Zieminski)
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