Qantas has signed a new deal with the online travel booking arm of Chinese e-commerce juggernaut Alibaba as it looks to increasingly tap the potential of Australia’s biggest two-way trade partner.
Qantas has struck the arrangement for a strategic relationship with Fliggy, which used to be known as Alitrip, a platform that allows Chinese consumers to book airline tickets and other travel products.
It is expected the announcement will be made today.
Qantas International chief executive Gareth Evans said the partnership was another plank of the carrier’s strategy for China and the broader Asia region.
“With travel between China and Australia booming, a Qantas booking page on Fliggy is an exciting opportunity for us to have a direct connection with younger Chinese travellers, who increasingly turn to mobile applications like Fliggy and online sites to research and purchase travel,” Mr Evans said.
Qantas senior executives including chief executive Alan Joyce and Mr Evans have previously said there are big opportunities in China.
Figures from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics show total passenger traffic between China and Australia was up 28.7 per cent last year.
As well, Australia and China have signed an “open skies-style” agreement that removed capacity restrictions on services between the two countries.
Mr Evans said Australia “is one of the top destinations on the wish list for many Chinese travellers”.
Fliggy vice-president Jerry Hu, who has signed the memorandum of understanding with Mr Evans for the strategic relationship, said the popularity of mobile internet meant Fliggy could provide a big base of consumers “as well as facilitate direct communication with customers”.
The deal also has scope for joint marketing campaigns to Fliggy’s active users.
Fliggy is competing with Ctrip in the online travel space in China.
Mr Hu said Fliggy was also able to provide “consumer insights” to brands.
Qantas launched a direct service from Beijing to Australia earlier this year and has tie-ups with China Eastern and China Southern.
The major carriers are escalating their Asian strategies.
Qantas plans to deploy 40 per cent of its capacity to Asia in the 2018 financial year, while Virgin has launched flights to Hong Kong and wants to fly to mainland China.
By ANNABEL HEPWORTH