Qantas is planning to expand the acceptance of Unionpay cards to encompass a wider variety of flights and services in the future.

The expansion comes following the signing yesterday of an MOU with Unionpay International, China’s largest payment network provider. Under the agreement, the two companies will look into expanding payments for additional flight reservations along with other related purchases, including seat selection, excess baggage, and future exclusive deals.

Currently, Unionpay cardholders are only able to pay for flight bookings made on Qantas’ website for flights originating in China. The expansion will open up Qantas’ services to a wider selection of Chinese customers – a move likely spurred on by the recent launch of its third service to China between Sydney and Beijing in January.

“With over five billion Unionpay cards in circulation around the world, the increased acceptance of Unionpay cards across all of Qantas’ touch points gives customers convenient access to one of the most popular payment methods in the world, especially in Asia,” said Qantas International and Freight CEO, Gareth Evans.

“China is critical to our strategy in Asia. Together with our new direct Sydney-Beijing service, the deepening of this partnership reflects our commitment to the region, enabling our Asian customers to travel to and within Australia seamlessly.”

Unionpay, meanwhile, has been targeting Australia in particular, with the goal of expanding its services within the country a key component of its growth strategy.

“As the China-Australia Year of Tourism, 2017 is an important year for Unionpay to accelerate acceptance and usage of Unionpay cards in Australia,” said Unionpay International CEO, Cai Jianbo.

“To achieve this, we have a three-pronged approach: firstly to improve the online payment infrastructure and customer experience through gaining greater acceptance of Unionpay cards for online payments by local merchants; secondly, to position and leverage ‘Mobile Quickpass’, Unionpay’s contactless payment system, as a leading and innovative payment method in Australia. Lastly, to promote the uptake of Unionpay cards among Australian residents as a viable payment mode, which provides convenience and safe transactions in Australia, China and other parts of the world.”

Qantas offers a total of 130 weekly return flights between Australia and China, through its own services and codeshare partnerships with mainland Chinese airlines, China Eastern and China Southern.

In 2016, more than 1.2 million Chinese tourists visited Australia, an increase of 23 per cent year on year.;