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China Eastern launches online sales with Alibaba

CHINA Eastern Airlines today launched a strategic cooperation with Alibaba Group to boost its online ticket sales.

Alipay, the country's largest third-party electronic payment platform provider and a member of Alibaba Group, will provide an online transaction platform for the official Website of China Eastern Airlines.

Meanwhile, the nation's third-largest carrier by fleet size has also launched a flagship online store at, the C2C platform under Alibaba, to sell tickets directly to individual customers.

China Eastern expects to boost online booking for individual travelers to 30 percent from less than 5 percent in the next five years, while its sales through traditional distributors at travel agencies now accounts for 70 percent of its total sales, said general manager Ma Xulun.

"Online booking can help us cut marketing costs and raise the efficiency of our capital," Ma added. He also noted that cooperation with traditional distributors such as Ctrip and Elong will not be affected.

China Eastern Airlines' merger with smaller rival Shanghai Airlines has passed an examination by the Civil Aviation Administration but is still waiting approval from the China Securities Regulatory Commission. The merger should be completed by the end of the year, chairman Liu Shaoyong said at the event today.

Eastern Airlines' Ma also noted that the carrier is still facing huge pressure but will reduce net losses this year and expecting to break even in 2010.


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