Skyscanner has been bought by China’s biggest online travel firm, Ctrip, for £1.4bn.

The current management team will continue to run Skyscanner independently, but as part of the Ctrip Group.

“Skyscanner is one of the largest travel search platforms in the world,” said James Jianzhang Liang, co-founder and executive chairman of Ctrip. “

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“This acquisition will strengthen long-term growth drivers for both companies. Skyscanner will complement our positioning at a global scale and Ctrip will leverage our experience, technology and booking capabilities to Skyscanner’s.”

Skyscanner is based in Edinburgh, but it all started at the University of Manchester. CEO Gareth Williams met co-founder Bonamy Grimes on their first day at the University.

The graduates set up the firm in 2003 along with IT professional and Barry Smith.

“Ctrip is the clear market leader in China and a company we can learn a huge amount from,” explained Gareth Williams of the deal.

“Today’s news takes Skyscanner one step closer to our goal of making travel search as simple as possible for travellers around the world. Ctrip and Skyscanner share a common view – that organising travel has a long way to go to being solved. To do so requires powerful technology and a traveler-first approach.

“In taking the next step to achieving our goal, Skyscanner will remain operationally independent and our growing global team will continue to innovate and deliver the products travellers know and love. It’s an exciting time for our business, our partners and the travellers who use us.”