This is big news for airlines, and big news for online travel in China. Expect a surge in mobile and desktop booking, as well as other players to come up with equally flexible payment methods.
Alipay, the online payments unit of Chinese internet giant Alibaba, is teaming up with world airlines to let its 800 million account holders purchase flights without a credit card. The company’s deal with UATP (Universal Air Travel Plan), a private network run by airlines like Air New Zealand, Delta, Aero Mexico, Qantas, and Japan Airlines, is designed to capture a slice of the China’s rapidly expanding travel sector, currently worth some 622 billion yuan ($102 billion).
Jingming Li, Chief Technology Officer for AliPay, told Quartz that Alibaba launched the partnership because they, “had noticed a great trend of our members traveling to popular destinations like San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, London and Paris.”
Chinese tourists spent $103 billion in 2012, topping the U.S. and Germany, each of which spent around $84 billion on travel. The burgeoning Chinese middle and upper classes contributed to a total of 83 million outbound trips from China last year, but with credit cards relatively rare it isn’t always easy for them to book flights on foreign carriers.
Li said the Alipay-UATP deal “means all of a sudden that businesses in their network are able to have a huge Chinese market, just like that. It’s very natural for us to service them, even when they are abroad: when they buy a ticket, when they are booking hotels, we want them to be able to use what they are used to in China and that’s Alipay.”
This story originally appeared on Quartz, a Skift content partner.
Additional links from Quartz:
Subscribe to Skift Pro
Subscribe to Skift Pro to get unlimited access to stories like these ($30/month)Subscribe Now
Photo Credit: File of employees standing on a logo of Alibaba (China) Technology Co. Ltd during a media tour organised by government officials at its headquarters on the outskirts of Hangzhou. Carlos Barria / Reuters
U.S. Hotel Performance Slips While China Roars Back to Life
The U.S. and China are riding a hotel performance see-saw where one goes up as the other comes down. But travel analysts and executives are downplaying the notion the Delta variant is going to lead to a travel doomsday scenario over the fall and winter.
Cameron Sperance | 6 days ago
Chinese Travelers Still See U.S. as Most Unsafe for Travel
Got the pandemic under control? That remains a key factor for Chinese tourists to go abroad, a new sentiment survey from Dragon Trail shows. None of that "living-with-the-virus" approach that some Asian destinations are starting to embrace.
Lebawit Lily Girma | 7 days ago
IHG Locked in Fierce Luxury Competition and 11 Other Top Travel Stories This Week
In Skift's top stories this week, IHG makes further inroads in the luxury sector, the travel industry grapples with the prolonged absence of Chinese visitors, 2021 emerges as the year of travel companies going public, and the trend of tour operator mergers continues.
Rashaad Jorden, Skift | 4 weeks ago