The world’s largest airline, American Airlines, and Alibaba Group-owned Fliggy on Tuesday announced a strategic partnership that will bring travel perks to millions of the online travel platform’s Chinese customers.
Starting next month, Fliggy members can register to enjoy select benefits from AA’s loyalty program, AAdvantage, depending on the level of their membership with Fliggy. For example, Fliggy F1 members will earn preferred boarding when taking an economy class flight, while those with Fliggy’s F2 and F3 memberships will receive certain perks equivalent to AAdvantage’s Gold and Platinum status, respectively.
Moreover, AA plans to launch a flagship store on Fliggy, joining other airline stalwarts such as Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, and Lufthansa to capture the booming travel demand by Chinese consumers.
Future plans for the partnership also include the implementation of Alipay, the mobile payment system of Alibaba’s related company, Ant Financial, as a form of payment, said both companies in a joint statement.
As part of Alibaba Group, Fliggy has access to more than 500 million mobile monthly active users on Alibaba’s China retail marketplaces. This means that by partnering with Alibaba airlines can gain valuable insights into the Chinese market, allowing them to better customize their services for Chinese customers, said Fliggy Vice President Jerry Hu.
“This is why more than 70 well-known domestic and foreign airlines have chosen to establish flagship stores on Fliggy,” he said.
Alison Taylor, senior vice president of Global Sales and Distribution at American Airlines, said the company is committed to China and is offering Chinese customers more flights to more destinations between North America and Asia.
“This partnership changes the way loyalty programs in China interact with one another and provides more flight options for Fliggy users between these two critical business and leisure destinations,” she said.
According to a forecast by investment bank CLSA, Chinese outbound tourism is expected to hit 200 million people by 2020 from 135 million seen in 2016. Spending by Chinese overseas travelers is also projected to reach $429 billion in 2021 compared with $261 billion in 2016, the firm said in a report.
Founded in 1930, AA offers 6,700 flights each day to 350 destination in 50 countries and regions. The Texas-headquartered company is also a founding member of the Oneworld Alliance, whose members and members-elect offer nearly 14,250 flights daily to 1,000 destinations in 150 countries.