The China-based online retail giant, Alibaba is moving their attention a step further from their present activities in online retail sales, payment methods and computing services.
They have signed a so-called strategic cooperation deal with the China Spring Group whereby Alibaba and China Spring Airlines will cooperate in developing loyalty programs together as well as
enhanced ticket sales and introduction of a destination marketability program. Also included in the pact are the set-up of IT and data storage system as well as what it seems as being joint
payment and transaction facilities.
The plan is to utilize respective expertise from both companies in order to give online consumers and the aviation clients a far better service.
Is this Alibaba’s first move into the airline passenger service?
Alibaba also goes ocean
In other news, Alibaba also announced a partnership on ocean transport with Maersk Line.
The agreement is said to allow Alibaba customers to have the possibility of reserving cargo space on the Maersk Line ocean going vessels.
The new deal was put into effect towards the end of December 2016 with Alibaba customers being able to use their One Touch booking site in order to reserve space on outgoing vessels from around eight Chinese ports.
One Touch is now an Alibaba in-house booking portal which was acquired by the Chinese e-commerce giant back in 2010 with the aim of allowing small- and medium-sized Chinese exporters and private individuals the means of direct booking for air cargo shipments as well as for domestic Chinese postal delivery services.
Taobao is accused of improper business practices
In a related development, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, a government agency charged with aiding the development of U.S. trade policy, last month put Alibaba’s e-commerce marketplace Taobao on its list of “notorious markets” for offering counterfeited items.
Alibaba doesn’t have its own inventory and thus exerts less control over quality and authenticity of its products.
Although the designation does not carry any official penalty, it could damage Taobao’s reputation among both consumers and brands looking to buy or sell on Alibaba-owned platforms.
Despite these alleged shortcomings, Alibaba is going its own way in expanding its e-commerce reach further within mainland China and beyond, shown by their Land, Air and Sea initiatives.
The steady expansion into other South East Asian countries as well as the newly started air parcels service between Hong Kong and Prague utilizing a leased B747 freighter is surely a sign that they intend to broaden their horizons.
It will be interesting to see how both Amazon (Prime Air) and Alibaba lock horns in the future.
John Mc Donagh / Nol van Fenema