A high-profile contract 

KLM and its partner Air France will be the first non-Asian carriers to open their own web store on Alitrip, where Chinese consumers can purchase KLM tickets directly from the airline. The web store is scheduled to open in December, and is expected to significantly increase online sales in China and further expand awareness of the KLM brand among Alibaba’s huge consumer base. 

The signing took place in Hangzhou during a Dutch trade mission to China. It was attended by King Willem-Alexander, State Secretary Sharon Dijksma of Economic Affairs, KLM President & CEO Pieter Elbers, and Alibaba CEO Jack Ma. 

KLM's continuing Asian expansion 

This move is in step with KLM’s ambitions in China, where the airline had already become the first foreign carrier to offer 24/7 customer service via the Chinese social media platforms Weibo and WeChat. 

China is an important market for KLM, which serves seven destinations (in Dutch) in the Greater China region: Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Hong Kong, and Taipei. The Chinese market is now one of KLM’s five largest markets worldwide. "Due to its extensive route network, KLM is well positioned in China to benefit from the growing demand for international travel," said KLM's President & CEO Pieter Elbers. "With this new partnership, we aim to reach a broader Chinese consumer audience in this strategically important market." 

A base at Schiphol makes expansion easier

It makes sense that KLM would make this move, as they are already based in an airport that is uniquely capable of expanding to Asia. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is a true European gateway, with more than 100 different airlines providing 323 flight connections to airports in 98 different countries. Schiphol is also the third-largest European airport in terms of cargo, and offers easy access to a wide network of rail and road connections, as well as proximity to both the Port of Amsterdam and the Port of Rotterdam.