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Priceline® launches in Asia

Name Your Own PriceTM Service for Air Tickets and Hotel Rooms

HONG KONG, April 16 - Priceline, the Internet travel service that lets travellers name their own price for air tickets and hotel rooms, launched in Asia today.

Available initially in Hong Kong at, the business is operated by Hutchison-Priceline (Travel) Limited - a company formed with investments from Hutchison Whampoa Limited in Hong Kong and Incorporated in the United States. Priceline in Hong Kong has a bilingual transactional website in Chinese and English.

Hutchison Whampoa group managing director Canning Fok said Hong Kong was selected as Priceline's first Asian market because it is the base for the Group's worldwide operations.

"We chose to kick-off in Hong Kong because this is the home base for the Hutchison Group and we do see possible synergies between Priceline and our other businesses," he said.

"From today, Hutchison-Priceline is officially added to our group's portfolio. We believe that this unique service has strong business potential and will help to grow the travel market throughout the Asian region."

Hutchison-Priceline's chief executive officer, Alfredo Gangotena, said the new travel business presented a win-win-win formula for Asia.

Priceline Says Savings Will Fuel Travel Spending in Asia

"Priceline is great news for Asia's travellers, for our airline and hotel partners, and for the travel industry as a whole," he said.

"Our service is a revolutionary concept that empowers leisure travellers to name their own price and save up to 20%-30% off average market rates. At the same time, Priceline provides airlines and hotels with incremental revenue in exchange for their excess capacity - the seats and rooms that they normally don't sell through other channels. Overall, great savings mean people can travel more. And once you create that urge to travel, everybody wins."

Gangotena said Priceline in Asia currently had 25 Asian and international airline partners and about 8,000 hotels around the world. Travellers could visit the Asia-Pacific region, the United States, Canada, Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean and even Central America. More destinations were being added constantly, he said.

Priceline describes itself as a matchmaker between value-conscious travellers and its airline and hotel partners. Through the Internet, the company accepts purchase offers from travellers who name the price they want to pay for air tickets and hotel rooms. Priceline's patented technology then goes to work to try to find a travel supplier willing to accept that price.

The model has been warmly embraced by Americans, who have bought more than 20 million travel products from Priceline in just four years. This year the U.S. service was named best travel deal on the web by the Yahoo! Internet Life e-magazine

"We believe that Priceline's core consumer proposition - savings - should translate well to the Asian market," said chairman and CEO Richard S. Braddock.

"In addition to getting consumers the travel products they want and the price they want, Priceline will enable travel suppliers around the world to sell some of their excess or perishable inventories through the Asian marketplace Priceline is creating."

Priceline Adapts to Asian Market

Gangotena said his company had worked hard to adapt the original U.S. model for Asian travellers. "We believe we're among the first multi-language, multi-currency e-travel operations in a region where online travel is now the third largest e-commerce business - and growing at an average of 138% per year."

He said Hong Kong travellers could take advantage of Priceline's savings three ways. They could make an offer through the Internet, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. During the same hours, they could use a combination of the Internet and Priceline's trilingual call center if they wanted to provide some details over the phone, such as a credit card number. Lastly, they could make a complete booking by phone if they called any day between 8am and midnight.

Added Gangotena: "The call-in credit card payment option is an important innovation. It means travellers can submit an offer over the Internet any time of the day or night, then phone in their credit card details. We'll have an answer for them in one hour, and we deliver air tickets within three working days. The process of booking and buying travel has never been so fast or so convenient."

Meanwhile, Priceline planned to launch in Singapore and Taiwan later this year, Gangotena said. "Note that speed is not our absolute priority. We want to ensure that all facets of our operation - from the technical side to the individual market adaptation - are as perfect as possible. We look forward to providing Priceline's great travel savings to more travellers across Asia soon."

About Priceline®

Priceline is the unique Name Your Own PriceTM Internet travel service for airline tickets and hotel rooms. Priceline offers travellers a trade-off - flexibility for big savings. For airline tickets, customers choose their destination, dates of travel and desired price, then agree to fly on a major airline at the times when the airline has empty seats. For hotel rooms, customers specify their dates, the desired areas of a city, the hotel quality and, of course, the price. Priceline then picks an international-brand or boutique hotel.

Priceline works with one of the travel industry's largest collections of travel suppliers. These include 25 Asian and international airlines and 8,000 hotel properties in the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean and Canada.