China Eastern Airlines is reported to have adopted Alipay as its online settlement tool to raise its competitive power in e-ticketing.
This is according to Beijing Business Today which says the airline and Alibaba have signed a contract and will launch the online payment platform within the year.
Online travel agents such as Ctrip and eLong now they have to try and consolidate their market position on e-ticketing. If this deal goes through they face a major challenge. And, of course, it the paper ticket now has heard the final strike of the funeral drum.
The airlines have not been able to build up a major marketing Internet presence. For example, air ticket booking via airlines’ websites accounted for just 3.5-4% of the total online booking amount.
TMC.net reports that there are rumours Air China and China Southern Airlines will also start cooperation with Alibaba by the end of the year. The attraction is that it should boost online sales by way of the airline’s own channels as listed on Alibaba. It may damage agents but, for airlines, it will probably cut costs and improve profitability.