Dubai-based Emirates is looking to extend its reach in the lucrative Chinese market and embark on “a new growth trajectory” through a deal with online travel agency the Trip.com Group.
A Memorandum of Understanding signed in Shanghai signaled the start of strategic cooperation between the two companies that will include joint marketing promotions and other initiatives via the Chinese group’s online platforms.
Emirates said the partners would explore future collaborations aimed at providing customized products to suit members of both loyalty programs.
It added that the partnership would potentially pave the way for joint initiatives on technical aspects, big data analysis and marketing strategy development.
In the first instance, the world’s biggest international airline hopes to leverage Trip.com Group’s extensive user network to expand its reach and penetration in the market through exclusive fares and tailor-made products.
Trip.com Group will be able to take advantage of Emirates’ network, brand and upmarket in-flight offerings for a customer base seeking personalized travel experiences.
“China is a very important market for Emirates and we are pleased to establish a strategic partnership with Trip.com Group to help us deliver on our growth strategy,’’ Emirates senior vice president far east commercial operations Orhan Abbas said in the announcement.
“This is an exciting time for Emirates as we enter into a new phase in our operations in China, having enjoyed 15 successful years of serving mainland China.
“We aim to build on our achievements over the years and embark on a robust strategy aimed at boosting sales further.
“We plan to enter a new growth trajectory and, in Trip.com Group, we have found the right strategic partner to collaborate with and achieve our goals.”
Trip.com Group vice president Tan Yudong said the outbound Chinese travel market had huge potential and his company was constantly upgrading its services to provide its users with an improved travel experience.
“The partnership with Emirates will enable users of the platform to have more choice with access to more airline options when booking international travel, more destinations to choose from, and flight options that provide seamless connectivity for their travel plans,’’ he said.
Emirates remains positive about its prospects for 2020 after what president Tim Clark described a year of recalibration in 2019 that included news that Sir Tim would step down in June.
“In 2020, we’ll continue to leverage our partnerships to provide even more connectivity and value for our customers,’’ he said. “And we look forward to welcoming the world to Dubai for Expo2020, where we will showcase the future of aviation at the Emirates Pavilion.”
Emirates carried almost 58 million passengers on its Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft in 2019 as it operated an average of 3500 flights per week.
The airline reinforced its global network of 159 destinations in 2019, with the addition of three new passenger routes: Dubai to Phnom Penh via Bangkok, Dubai-Porto and Dubai to Mexico City via Barcelona.
It also increased frequencies and upgraded capacity to 12 points within its network.
The airline ended 2019 with 26 codeshare partners and 156 interline partners in 200 countries, extending its network by over 1,800 unique destinations.
New partnerships forged in 2019 included China Southern Airlines, Africa World Airlines, LATAM Airlines, SpiceJet and Interjet.