Alibaba Group has expanded its internet-based international air ticket sales operation to Taobao.com, China’s biggest online retail commercial website, the Wall Street Journal reported. Taobao, which is wholly owned by Alibaba (parent company of Alibaba.com, 1688.HK), launched the new feature on Wednesday, bringing it into direct competition with Ctrip.com International (CTRP.NASDAQ), currently China’s most popular online air ticket sales site, and Expedia’s eLong (LONG.NASDAQ). "By the end of the year, Taobao travel channel hopes to be selling 50% more airplane tickets than Ctrip.co’s online ticket sales," said a company spokeswoman. Taobao hopes its new buyer-protection policy, which offers a refund for international ticket sales in dispute, will entice customers away from Ctrip. A spokeswoman for Ctrip said that while Taobao is simply a platform for customers and agents, Ctrip offers a more complete booking service.
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