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SINGAPORE: August 21, 2018. Singapore Airlines has signed a strategic partnership with the Alibaba Group covering logistics, digital-wallet payments, AI and Fliggy, Alibaba’s on-line travel mall platform.

In April last year SkyTeam, the global airline alliance, signed an MoU with Fliggy that includes a webstore offering customers access to services from its members. American Airlines, Qantas and Turkish Airlines have also established a platform presence with Fliggy.

SIA AlibabaChina is now Singapore’s top market in both tourism spending and visitors, contributing S$3.7 billion and 3.2 million arrivals in 2017 according to the Singapore Tourism Bureau.

Last year 131 million Chinese tourists travelled overseas - a 7.0 percent year-on-year jump says the China Tourism Academy. The government think-tank forecasts China’s outbound tourism market will reach 157 million by 2020.

Under the new deal with Alibaba Singapore Airlines, which launched a flagship store on Fliggy in 2016, will now offer Chinese customers the opportunity to earn and redeem points for extra-baggage allowance, priority boarding, VIP lounge services, preferred seat selection and bonus miles.

“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.

Singapore Airlines has also signed an agreement with Ant Financial, part of the Alibaba Group, to allow Chinese travelers to use Alipay for purchasing inflight products and airport services; to work with Cainiao Network in building a global smart logistics operation that delivers across China within 24 hours and globally within 72 hours; and to leverage Alibaba’s proprietary AI programme 'ET Brain' to boost its digital capabilities, including web hosting, apps and memberships systems.

“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 EVP Commercial (right of picture). “Our partnership with Alibaba Group will be an important element in our drive to be a digital aviation leader,” he added.

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