Chinese internet firms look to the sky for new revenue

Several companies from China's media, e-commerce, and content markets including ZTE, Sina.com, and Youku Tudou have formed a consortium to tap potential revenue from airline passengers with inflight services.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Several companies from China's media, e-commerce, communications, and content market segments have banded to explore growth opportunities in the country's expanding air transport industry.

More than 30 Chinese industry players including Xinhua News Agency's Information Center, ZTE, Sina.com, and Youku Tudou have come together to establish the Inflight Internet Industry Alliance, which was launched at the Airshow China 2014 currently held in Zhuhai, Guangdong.

The country's civil transport industry boasts a traffic of 360 million people a year, with the average flight time in China lasting 2.5 hours, reported Xinhua. About 900 million hours of domestic flights are clocked each year, presenting significant growth opportunities for internet companies. China Eastern Airlines, for instance, tested its in-flight Wi-Fi service in July on flight MU5101 from Beijing to Shanghai. 

Noting it was time to tap the growth potential in inflight entertainment, Li Jie, president of Youku Tudou, suggested that the online video site might purchase copyrights of blockbuster movies and hit shows that could then be offered to inflight passengers for a fee.

Zhu Yongqiang, vice president of China Galaxy Securities, said his organization formed partnerships with airlines to offer inflight securities trading services as part of efforts to identify high-worth customers for Galaxy.

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