Alibaba’s logistics unit Cainiao has launched the first e-commerce daily cargo air route between Hangzhou where it headquartered and Moscow the Russian capital in the run-up to its annual online shopping bonanza, Chinese state media Xinhua reported.
Cainiao flew the maiden flight on Wednesday, October 30, which took around 12 hours.
Traditional surface mail delivery of Alibaba goods from China to customers in Russia sometimes takes over 50 days. The launch of the Cainiao cargo air route is expected to cut the delivery down to 10 days. More than 40% of packages, which are usually shipped to Russia through land transport, will be upgraded to the air-express service, without charging buyers any additional fee.
Additionally, the Chinese express carrier, ahead of its parent’s Double Eleven shopping festival, will launch at least 100 charted flights to deliver goods to European and Southeast Asian cities such as Belgium’s Liege, Latvia’s Riga and Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur, according to the report, citing Cainiao International’s general manager Zhao Jian. While the Double Eleven has always remained a year-end shopping treat for Chinese customers, Alibaba is also gradually pushing the event to the global stage. And Cainiao is underpinning that ambition.
The express arm announced in the middle of last year a plan to roll out its logistics hubs in cities—including Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, Moscow, and Liege—across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East to improve its global delivery capacity.
Russia has become one of the biggest overseas markets for Alibaba since the e-retailer launched AliExpress—its international marketplace where customers in more than 150 countries can buy goods from Chinese merchants—in Russia nine years ago.
The first half of 2019 saw the Russian e-commerce market have an annual growth of 26% to USD 11 billion, according to research firm Data Insight. The number of purchases online was 191 million in the reporting period, up by a record 44%, partly driven by cross-border purchases. AliExpress owned 20 million users in 2017, industry data provider yStats.com report showed.
Earlier this year, Alibaba teamed up with Russian social media giant Mail.ru and Russian mobile operator to form a joint venture, named “AliExpress Russia JV,” with support also from Kremlin’s Russia Direct Investment Fund, further growing its presence in the market.
As part of the deal, AliExpress shoppers now can buy items directly on Mail.ru-owned VKontakte, Russian’s largest social media platform with 97 million monthly users.