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OTA giants respond to competition probe; Alibaba invests in travel tech firm | Daily Brief

04/02/2020| 12:54:11 AM| ChinaTravelNews

TravelSky said it will weather coronavirus impacts in air travel without layoffs; Chinese embassy in UK is chartering a plane to bring home Chinese students.

Booking.com, Expedia, Trip.com drop favorable clauses 

>> Three major online travel agencies have offered to remove favorable terms in their contracts with accommodation providers in face of a Hong Kong watchdog's investigation. 

The Competition Commission said Booking.com, Expedia.com and Trip.com had agreed on terms that made it unlikely for hotels or guesthouses to offer a better room price, conditions or availability to a new online travel agency.

Trip.com Group boss: Beware the xenophobia epidemic 

>> Trip.com Group chairman James Liang said the international outbreak of COVID-19 has been met with encouraging mutual support from many countries, but unfortunately, xenophobia and anti-global tendencies have also become more apparent than ever. 

Mr. Liang said countries will need to work together closely to respond to the challenges that we collectively face, and to break down the barriers to exchange that still exist.

Alibaba invests in Israeli travel tech firm Hotelmize  

>> AI-based hotel price prediction and profit-optimization firm Hotelmize said it is raising its B round investment backed by Alibaba's entrepreneur fund. The Israel-based company is establishing its APAC headquarters in Hong Kong as a gateway to APAC and China.

TravelSky puts on a brave face as flight demand rebounds

>> China’s travel technology giant TravelSky said it will weather the coronavirus-related plunge in air travel without needing to lay off workers. In January it added a tool to its popular flight app that alerts a traveler if another passenger is later tested and found to have coronavirus. In 2019, the Beijing-based company generated USD 1.143 billion (RMB 8.1 billion), representing an increase of 8% year-on-year.

Air ticket scalpers gouge desperate overseas Chinese 

>> With tickets sold out on travel service apps and airline websites, Chinese students stranded overseas and scrambling to get home have been left with little option but to turn to unlicensed dealers who are selling tickets at 10 times the price amid the pandemic.   

The short supply and subsequent price gouging comes after a majority of airlines worldwide have cut capacity as a result of the coronavirus shutting down travel and grounding most flights. Of the 153 carriers, 72 have announced capacity cuts of 100%. 

Chinese embassy in UK charters flight for fleeing Students

>> The Chinese embassy in UK is chartering a plane to bring home Chinese students attempting to flee the country’s COVID-19 outbreak, Caixin has learned from their families. The chartered flight, which will depart London on April 2 for the city of Jinan in East China’s Shandong province, will accommodate “less than 200 people,” and is available only to Chinese students under the age of 18, who must travel at their own expense.

Air China 2019 net profit fell 13%, China Eastern rose 18%

>> State-owned major airlines Air China and China Southern Airlines registered net profit declines of 13% and 9% respectively last year, while their Shanghai-based counterpart China Eastern Airlines reported an increase of 18% in 2019.  

China's cultural tourism rides on 5G amid epidemic  

>> With online cultural products flourishing amid the epidemic, China's cultural tourism industry hopes to grab the opportunities brought by digital development based on 5G technologies. China has been accelerating its deployment of the 5G network in recent years. It plans to build more than 555,000 5G base stations nationwide by the end of 2020.

China Travel HK's revenue fell 1% last year  

>> China Travel HK posted annual revenue of HKD 4,477 million in 2019, down by 1% year-on-year. The company warns that the travel restrictions, quarantine measures and suspension of work due to coronavirus have posted particular notable impacts on its operation of travel agency, hotel and passenger transport. 

TAGS: Daily Brief | Trip.com | Alibaba | Chinese embassy | UK
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