Alibaba online auction sold two giant Boeing 747 jets

Anastasia Dagaeva
November 25, 2017
You can buy almost anything on Taobao, China's largest e-commerce platform, even a cargo jumbo jet.  

While the majority of Chinese consumer traffic through Alibaba Group's app aims for groceries, clothes, and gadgets, the Chinese logistics giant SF Express took Taobao shopping to a whole new level. The company bid more than 320 million yuan ($48 million) for a couple of Boeing-747 freighter jumbo jets, reported Xinhua News Agency, which cited the seller — the Intermediate People’s Court of Shenzhen City. A third aircraft remained unsold. Called the Queen of the Skies, Boeing’s 747 was the world’s first wide-body aircraft. 

“Online auctions are a good way to handle the property of bankrupt firms,” Long Guangwei, the court’s vice-president, said. The jets originated from Jade Cargo International, the Taobao listings show. 

Six offline auctions over the last two years had apparently failed to find buyers for the airplane, but they were quickly snapped up after being listed with Taobao on 20 November, for days prior to Black Friday. 

Taobao’s court auction platform is a trove of assets from cities across China, with real estate, industrial machines, vehicles, and equipment — in all possible state and condition  up for bids. Taobao, which means “digging for treasure”, also auctions off bad loans from Chinese companies. Alibaba dominates e-commerce in China, with Taobao and the company’s other shopping platforms accounting for more than 75% of online retail sales in 2015.  

The US-based online auction eBay put airplanes of different types on sale many times. In May 2016, the Virgin Atlantic’s first-ever Boeing 747 jumbo jet, has been listed for sale on eBay with a starting bid of more than a quarter million dollars and a ‘buy it now’ price of $900,000. Given its condition it wasn’t certified to fly, meaning the buyer would have to dismantle the jumbo jet and ship it to its new home in several pieces, all at their own cost. 

A year before that, a seller on eBay offered something different  a Soviet-era Tu-95 bomber with a starting price of only $3 million. A good example for Chinese online trade-platforms on how to “dig for treasures”.