KLM's Alitrip shop underlines convergence of airline and non-airline online channels

KLM is soon to have its own space here...

KLM is soon to have its own space here...

KLM is setting up shop on Alitrip, the online travel arm of Chinese ecommerce behemot Alibaba.

This way, KLM, which currently flies to five destinations in China (Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Huangzhou and Xiamen, in addition to Hong Kong and Taipei) becomes be the first European airline to sell through the leading Chinese online marketplace. Air France will be selling tickets also through this new channel too.

With airlines building up a presence on generalist online marketplaces and airlines' websites themselves becoming more like online malls, we are seeing a convergence of online platforms and channels. In other words: airlines websites becoming more like Amazon and Alibaba, while Amazon and Alibaba are welcoming airlines as partners. Which makes sense if we consider that both airlines and online stores are in the business of attracting and monetizing online traffic.

Airlines have in their websites and the large flows of visitors they are able to generate, most of them with their credit cards at hand and ready to spend, a truly important asset whose value goes well beyond the air travel business.