Singapore Airlines and online travel platform Fliggy said Tuesday that mileage points earned by their customers could be used at either company, giving Chinese travelers greater flexibility and more opportunities to receive extra perks and benefits as they take to the air.
Starting in October, customers in Fliggy’s top two membership tiers, F2 and F3, will automatically be given Silver and Gold status, respectively in Singapore Airlines’ membership program, KrisFlyer, if they complete one flight within six months after joining the program. KrisFlyer members of any tier can use their miles to book trips and hotels on Fliggy, Alibaba’s travel arm.
KrisFlyer Gold perks include an extra-baggage allowance, priority boarding, VIP lounge services, preferred seat selection and bonus miles, among other benefits.
In January, Fliggy and American Airlines also forged a similar agreement, with American extending benefits to Fliggy members, ranging from preferred boarding to receiving benefits similar to those of American AAdvantage Silver and Gold, such as extra legroom.
“Membership service is the integral part of the travel and hospitality industry. This collaboration brings our partnership, which initially started in 2013 with the adoption of Alipay by Singapore Airlines, to a whole new level,” said Jerry Hu, Alibaba Group vice president.
Hu said that Singapore Airlines, which launched a flagship store on Fliggy in 2016, was one of the most recognized brands among travelers.
“Amid structural changes in our industry, we have been making significant steps to ensure we meet new competitive challenges and deliver on our brand promise to customers,” said Mak Swee Wah, Singapore Airlines executive vice president commercial. “Our partnership with Alibaba Group will be an important element in our drive to be a digital aviation leader.”
Through Alibaba Group’s advanced digital assets and keen insight into Chinese consumer behavior, Mak added, his company would be able to better understand customer preferences and “develop more innovative travel solutions to help them explore the world.”
China is one of the world’s fastest-growing travel markets. In 2017, about 131 million Chinese tourists travelled overseas, marking a 7% year-on-year jump, according to the China Tourism Academy. The government-backed think tank estimates that China’s outbound tourism market will likely grow 5% a year to 157 million in 2020.
Last year, China has also become Singapore’s top market in both tourism spending and visitors, contributing $3.7 billion and 3.2 million arrivals, the Singapore Tourism Bureau reported.
“The numbers will continue to grow in years to come, and this presents a very attractive business proposition,” said Mak.
On the same day, Singapore Airlines and Ant Financial, a related company of Alibaba Group, also announced that Chinese travelers could use Alipay, Ant’s digital-wallet service, to purchase inflight products, airport services and KrisShop items.
Moreover, Singapore Airlines will explore new ways to boost their digital capabilities, including web hosting, apps and memberships systems, by leveraging ET Brain, Alibaba Cloud’s proprietary AI program.
In air cargo service, the airline will work with Cainiao Network, the logistics arm of Alibaba. It will join Cainao’s broader efforts in building a global smart logistics network that delivers across China within 24 hours and globally within 72 hours.