ChinaTravelNews learned that Trip.com Group has invested to build airport-based global intelligent travel service platform iSkytrip with Shanghai Airport Authority, the operator of Shanghai's Pudong and Hongqiao airports.
According to enterprise information platform Qichacha, Shanghai Donghu International Travel Service, the operating entity of iSkytrip, was founded in 1990, first as an international travel agency with airline ticketing accreditation.
In June 2019, Shanghai Ctrip Business, a subsidiary of Trip.com Group, acquired a 49% stake in the iSkytrip operator for RMB 5.19 million (USD 0.7 million). The Shanghai Airport Authority holds the remainder 51% shares of the company.
Launched in 2019, the iSkytrip app offers airport information directory, fast parking payment, fast security check, VIP lounge, merchant coupons, airport pick-up and drop-off chauffeur and other services. The platform leverages Trip.com Group's technology and Shanghai Airport Authority's resources to operate in an "airport + internet" model.
The iSkytrip platform is currently adding job listings for business development positions to form partnerships with international and domestic airports.
This is not the first time that the Chinese OTA has expanded into airport-related services.
Last December, Trip.com Group joined its strategic PE partner Ocean Link in investing in DragonPass, a Chinese company operating high-end business lounges at airports and high-speed railway stations, reportedly with tens of millions of US dollars. Trip.com Group chairman James Liang is also a member of Ocean Link's board of directors.
An industry analyst said that the iSkytrip app offers offline services to airline passengers and Trip.com Group's digital strengths can complement iSkytrip's offerings. For the online travel giant, expanding in the offline sectors can help grow its user traffic. The partnership with state-owned Shanghai Airport Authority will further boost Trip.com Group's offline presence in the air travel business.
Another analyst said that Trip.com Group may want to build a paid premium membership system covering domestic and international airports and further strengthen customer ownership.