HANGZHOU, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- Alibaba, China's largest e-commerce group, has started selling aircraft on its consumer-to-consumer online auction site Taobao.
The bidding started on Thursday and will end at 10 a.m. on Sept. 16 with six planes on sale.
The cheapest plane on offer, the training aircraft Jabiru J160C, started at one yuan. It had received 25 bids as of 5 p.m. on Friday, the highest being 1.05 million yuan (170,515 U.S. dollars).
The most expensive, light helicopter Eurocopter EC120 Colibri, was listed for 16.8 million yuan. It has not received any bids yet.
The other four planes are light sport aircraft of Aurora SA60L and CTLS and helicopters Robinson R22 and Robinson R44. No bids for the four had been recorded as of Friday evening.
Bidders have to put down a deposit of 50,000 yuan for each plane, except the Jabiru J160C which needs a deposit of just 2,000 yuan.
"It is common to trade planes online overseas, " said a Taobao staff member on condition of anonymity. "As the largest e-commerce platform, Taobao hopes to promote private planes among the public."
"We are testing waters of online plane trading," he said.
Private planes are far beyond the reach of most Chinese people with the huge cost of the plane and expensive training. But the rising number of new rich in China have shown great interest in owning their own planes.
In such a vast country, there are only 300 airports or landing areas for general aviation aircraft, which only numbered 1,198 in China in October 2012.
But prospects for private aircraft are promising as the State Council and the Central Military Commission jointly decided in November 2010 to gradually open up the country's low-altitude airspace to general aviation.