Hailed as Asian pioneer in online travel agency, Zuji was launched back in 2002 and now has gone out of business
Zuji, one of the first names to take a plunge in online travel agency business, has ceased operation. It is reported by Skift that Zuji failed to pay debt to airlines and missed out on renewing travel agency licenses in Singapore and Hong Kong, leading to its doom.
Zuji translates to “footprints” in Mandarin, and was in business since 2002. Singapore Tourism Board’s record shows that the company’s license has ceased since January 1, and January 9 according to the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau.
Earlier, it is reported, Zuji’s websites in both markets showed “New site coming soon” message all December. Now, it has returned error message.
There’s no report on the amount the company owed to airlines. A source from the Travel Industry Council in Hong Kong reported that it had received a total of US$32,000 worth of refunds case.
Zuji was a product of 16 Asia Pacific airlines that collaborate to create an online travel agency. The airlines include All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, China Airlines, EVA Airways, Garuda Indonesia, Hong Kong Dragon Airlines, Japan Air System, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Qantas Airways, Royal Brunei Airlines, SilkAir, Singapore Airlines and United Airlines – and Travelocity who was owned by Sabre Corporation.
All 16 airlines are said to have invested from US$50 million to US$100 million (2001 figures). At that time, online travel was a boom in Asia and China, and these top airlines tried to find ways to cut distribution costs and bypass travel agencies.
At that time Zuji’s product development plans included what it said to be the “roll-out of a state-of-the-art” air booking engine and tours and packages capability. Scott Blume was the first CEO of the company in January 2003, and was optimistic about Zuji’s chance of leading the industry.
However, the company ended up being acquired by Travelocity in 2006, sold to Webjet in 2013, who then sold it to Uriel Aviation Holdings in 2016.
The International Air Transport Association gave a confirmation that Zuji has been terminated from its billing and settlement plan, the clearing house for payments between travel agencies and airlines.