Etihad Aviation Group (EAG), Alibaba Group Holding Limited (NYSE: BABA) and Ant Financial Services Group (ANT Group) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to expand their partnership and deliver superior products and services to Chinese customers.

The groups plan to expand cooperation through greater collaboration on respective loyalty programmes. In addition, new products and services will be introduced to deliver an improved guest experience and improved logistics.

Under the agreement, Alibaba and Etihad Guest, the award-winning loyalty programme of Etihad Airways, will explore enhanced programme benefits and opportunities for cross-acquisition of loyalty points. This will include points conversion to Etihad Guest Miles, reciprocal benefits across premium tiers, and the ability to redeem Etihad Guest Miles for Alibaba products.

In addition, Alibaba Group and Etihad Airways will enter into a brand partnership agreement that will integrate the Alibaba Group of Brands with Etihad Airways’ premium leisure travel experience across its global route network.

Alibaba and Etihad Cargo will also cooperate to enhance cross-border air cargo delivery solutions to improve delivery efficiency and performance.

Alipay, an online and mobile payment platform operated by Ant Financial with 520 million monthly active mobile users, will work with Etihad Airways to explore payment service options inflight and on the ground to create a more convenient travel experience for Chinese guests.

 The addition of Alibaba and Alibaba’s related companies’ products and services is part of Etihad’s commitment to expanding the range of options available to Chinese customers.

Mohammad Al Bulooki, Etihad Airways Executive Vice President – Commercial, said: “Alibaba's renowned digitalisation and product innovations, designed around Chinese consumer behaviour, have ensured Alibaba's leading position in the industry.

“There is an impressive and growing number of Chinese outbound travellers exploring new destinations and unique experiences. The volume of goods transportation generated on ecommerce platforms has been amazing.

“We believe cooperation with Alibaba Group will better consolidate our product and service advantages for a convenient and refined travel experience, as well as enhance our brand awareness and jointly optimise our products and services.”

Chris Tung, Chief Marketing Officer of Alibaba Group, said: “We are delighted to see the partnership between Alibaba and Etihad rapidly taking shape with close cooperation on formulating innovative methods that will further enhance our awareness and influence in the global marketplace.

“Alibaba’s complete commercial ecosystem, significant big data resources and cutting-edge technology combined with Etihad Airways’ remarkable services and products and extensive global network will markedly improve Chinese passengers’ comprehensive travel experience.”

As the prelude to an enhanced partnership, Etihad Airways and Alibaba’s Tmall and Alitrip are promoting this year’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival through a special aircraft livery design.

Five Etihad Airways aircraft with special 11.11 livery began flying from Abu Dhabi to more than 40 cities worldwide - including the airline’s four Chinese destinations of Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Hong Kong - on October 20, showcasing China’s annual shopping festival to a global audience of millions.