Alibaba’s Taobao has just proven why it is China’s biggest e-commerce platform. The platform sells almost everything, even jumbo jets. On Tuesday, in an auction on Taobao, the Chinese air express carrier SF Airlines bought two Boeing 747-400 freighters.

Alibaba’s Taobao
By Charliepug (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Three jets on auction, but one has yet to sell

Alibaba’s Taobao, which is flocked by shoppers mainly for the usual groceries, clothes and other items, auctioned the carriers for over 320 million yuan (US$48 million), according to the report from the Xinhua news agency. A third plane could not be auctioned because there was only one buyer registered for the bid. The Boeing 747s were put up for auction on Monday morning, and their starting prices were set from 123 million yuan to 135 million yuan.

SF Airlines, a Chinese delivery company, purchased both the planes beating 25 other interested parties. The delivery company needs to make the full payment within 15 days of purchase. Jade Cargo International owned all three freight planes, which were later seized by the Shenzhen court after the company filed for bankruptcy. Prior to Taobao, the aircrafts were offered on several offline auctions, but could not find any takers. Finally in September, the court decided to try Taobao’s auction platform.

Alibaba’s Taobao
Image Source: susong.taobao.com (screenshot)

The freighters were delivered in 2007 and early 2008, and operated only for four years before being grounded. So, measured in terms of hours and cycles, these are quite young aircraft. However, to make them operational, SF will need to spend more than $24 million, notes Cargofacts. Both of the aircraft will have to undergo checks, get the outdated components replaced, engines revamped and if they were not stored in the proper conditions, corrosion problems may also have to be addressed.

Alibaba’s Taobao – a perfect place for auctions

Speaking to Xinhua, Long Guangwei, the court’s vice president said, “Online auctions are a good way to handle the property of bankrupt firms.” Further, the official said that online auctions save time and service fees for bidders. The auction saw over 800,000 viewers, according to the report by Xinhua.

Taobao’s court auction platform debuted in 2012 for the purpose of selling industrial equipment and vehicles. Almost all the Chinese courts are registered on the site now. To be eligible for participating in the auction on Taobao, a user needs to pay security deposits ranging from RMB6.1 million to RMB6.8 million.

Lu Weixing, general manager of Alibaba’s auction business, stated that online auctions bring transparency into the legal affairs, as all information is available on the website to see, according to Xinhua. Alibaba’s Taobao is a huge success in China and holds around 90% of the consumer-to-consumer market.

Taobao talked about the deal on the Chinese micro-blogging platform Weibo, but in a humorous tone. “Open the Taobao mobile app and click on the ‘auction’ button to find all kinds of bidding. According to our preferences, the system recommended we bid for 372 deer,” it said.

In 2016, Concord Aerospace, a Florida-based aerospace company, tried to pull a similar feat by putting up a Boeing 747 jumbo jet with the starting bid of $300,000 on eBay. The plane, however, failed to sell, notes NST.com.