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AirPlus International witnesses steady growth in global market

Lucy and Patrick W. Diemer

Beijing-China, April 8, 2015

Nearly 300 transactions completed per minute worldwide; after finalizing a strategic layout for providing services for MNCs, the Company is embarking on an exploratory journey to serve business travel management needs of SOEs in the China market.

AirPlus International, a leading global provider of payment and billing solutions for business travel, released a business status report on fiscal year (FY) 2014 in Beijing. The Report reveals that against the backdrop of a 3.6 percent decrease year-over-year in business travel spend on air tickets worldwide, AirPlus International delivered yet another year of outstanding performance by reporting €12.7 billion (or 85.598 billion yuan) in global sales in fiscal year (FY) 2014, a 7.6 percent growth year-over-year compared to €11.8 billion in 2013, despite overall weakness of industry growth in the global business travel market. Meanwhile, AirPlus China maintained a two-digit annual sales growth for six consecutive years, with its issuing volume nearing 6 billion yuan (5.8 billion yuan in 2014), or a 35 percent increase year-over-year, making it sustain the leading position in China’s business travel payment management market.

Mr. Patrick W. Diemer, Managing Director and Chairman of AirPlus International and Ms. Wang Lu, Managing Director of AirPlus International China co-hosted the press conference. “Two leverages have made it possible for us to maintain steady sales growth for two consecutive years despite the adverse effects arising from the general weakness of the business travel industry worldwide, especially the European market. The first one is our specialized, flexible and innovative business travel payment solutions, which help us retain new corporate customers on a continuous basis; and the second one is our accurate market strategy, that is, ‘taking bold actions to expand our presence into particularly the emerging markets’. ” Mr. Diemer said when being asked to share his successful experience in running the Company. “Four years ago, we decided China would be a core market, one of global importance, for AirPlus. We have ever since increased inputs in terms of capital injection, product development and localization. Now, our efforts have finally paid off.” He especially emphasized. Mr. Diemer also pointed out that according to the Company’s global strategy 2020, which was finalized in the beginning of the year, one of its three biggest goals is to develop the Asia-Pacific Region, with the China market being on top of the agenda. The Company is considering to introduce from Europe more and more innovative products and services to serve Chinese corporate customers. We are fully confident that we will have a better future here in the China market.

Commenting on AirPlus’ development strategy for the coming year in the China market, Ms. Wang Lu, Managing Director of AirPlus International China, remarked, “The Company posted record sales for yet another year in 2014, and the strategic layout for providing services for MNCs in the China market is nearing finalization. In the meanwhile, we are speeding up efforts to localize our product offerings. So far, the Chinese localization project has been finished. In 2015, we will, aside from making efforts to maintain robust growth and retain more MNC clients, strive to tap into the SOE and domestic SME market, and introduce AirPlus’ globally advanced business travel payment management concepts and services into this huge market segment, while bringing more value to China's business travel industry in the future. In addition, we will work closely with our strategic partners to actively explore a new development model for the industry in the era of ‘Internet+’, in a bid to jointly embrace new changes in the industry. ”

It is learned that among over 1,100 global corporate customers AirPlus International added in 2014, 297, or nearly 1/3 of the total new customers, were retained by AirPlus China.

AirPlus China has a good prospect, as China’s business travel management still remains at a preliminary stage

Developing China’s SOE customers has been a key strategic focus of AirPlus China. In 2014, AirPlus China conducted an in-depth survey on nearly 100 business travel managers from 54 large-scale SOEs and 10 large-size private companies, in its efforts to deepen product development to meet the needs of SOEs for business travel management. Survey results reveal that 56 percent of the SOEs surveyed are still filling out business travel applications and relevant reimbursement documents by hand; and only 45 percent of the SOE business travel managers surveyed said they would hire a specialized third-party company to take care of their business travel management needs. During the interview, “Compliance”, “transparency”, “business travel integration” and “business travel policies” were the most frequently mentioned words for Chinese business travel managers. It can therefore be seen that there is still big room for improvement, especially with regard to business travel management in Chinese companies.

AirPlus International Travel Management Study 2015 further reveals that Chinese business travel managers generally hold an optimistic view on the business travel market for the following year. 20 percent of the respondents said China’s economic development is affecting the business travel market in a positive way; 31 percent of them predicted business travel volume is going up in the coming year; and 36 percent of them believed that overall, China’s business travel spending will rise in the year 2015. It is worth noting that that many business travel managers believed one of the main factors resulting in the growth in business travel spending is that Chinese enterprises are gradually expanding outreach to overseas markets.

The above two reports indicate that the China market for business travel management has a big potential for development. Whilst bearing in mind the German quality tradition and standards in view of the actual needs of local enterprises, AirPlus China will strive to accelerate its localization process and deliver innovative, comprehensive, highly-applicable business travel payment management solutions for SOEs and SMEs in Tier II cities across China.

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