Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Alibaba Group have entered a partnership covering flight ticket sales, loyalty programmes, marketing initiatives, cloud services, payments and logistics.
The tie-up represents an extension of a partnership between SIA and Alibaba Group’s affiliate, Alipay, which was introduced as a payment option on SIA’s website in 2013. In 2016, an official SIA flagship store was also launched on what was then known as Alitrip (later rebranded Fliggy), Alibaba’s travel service platform, for direct purchase of SIA flight tickets by consumers in China.
There are over 600 million monthly active mobile users on Alibaba’s China retail marketplaces alone, and SIA and Alibaba Group expect to gain actionable customer insights through the new deal, the partners said in a joint statement.
The extended partnership will kick in later this year, when KrisFlyer and Fliggy introduce two-way points conversion, allowing members to enjoy membership perks from both loyalty programmes. SIA and Fliggy also intend to explore further opportunities to sync their respective loyalty programmes and to drive cross-promotion of membership services.
In addition, eligible Fliggy members at certain loyalty programme tiers will be able to earn KrisFlyer Elite Silver or Gold status. Accompanying privileges could include tier bonuses on miles flown, priority reservation waitlist, seat selection privileges and priority baggage handling. Fliggy members who achieve KrisFlyer Elite Gold status can also receive benefits from the entire Star Alliance network, the world’s largest airline alliance.
SIA and Alipay will also work on extending Alipay acceptance beyond flight purchases to also cover in-flight products and services, airport services, retail merchandise and ancillary touchpoints.
In addition, together with Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Alibaba Group, SIA will explore how its IT ecosystem – from web hosting to apps and membership systems – can benefit from Alibaba Cloud’s global network. This includes the strong coverage of Alibaba Cloud’s data centres and its capabilities in managing aviation-related resourcing needs through ET Brain, Alibaba Cloud’s proprietary AI programme.
SIA will also work closely with Cainiao Network, the logistics arm of Alibaba Group, to enhance international air cargo services.
“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. Enhancing our digital capabilities is one of our priorities, and our partnership with Alibaba Group will be an important element in our drive to be a digital aviation leader,” Mak Swee Wah, Singapore Airlines executive vice president commercial.
“Through Alibaba Group’s digital assets and keen insights of Chinese consumer behaviour, we will be able to better understand the needs of our customers and develop more innovative travel solutions to help them explore the world.”