Skift Take

Amazon wants to be a superapp, the mobile tool of choice to book flights, buy books, and make payments. In travel, flights are only the beginning.

Days after Skift broke the news story that Amazon had launched domestic flights in India, Amazon India confirmed the launch and touted how customers can now book flights, make utility payments, transfer money, and shop for other products “all in one single app.”

“Customers are already using Amazon beyond shopping,” said Shariq Plasticwala, director of Amazon Pay, in a prepared statement Saturday. “Over the past year, customers have rapidly adopted our payments services such as mobile recharges, utility payments, and money transfers. They love the convenience we offer of shopping and paying — all in one single app.”

Plasticwala said Amazon is delighted to partner with Cleartrip, which is powering the flight-booking services, available with cash-back discounts for all customers, and additional ones for Amazon Prime members, in the Amazon mobile app and on its website.

Here’s Skift’s analysis on why launching a seemingly money-losing flights business in India actually makes financial sense for Amazon, and what the strategic implications of Amazon’s reemergence in travel might mean: Amazon’s Travel Strategy Comes Into Focus.

No Additional Cancellation Fees

Amazon said the airfares it provides from carriers flying domestically in India transparently show all applicable charges, such as “convenience fees,” and if customers need to cancel a flight, they would pay the airline a cancellation fee with no additional charges levied by Amazon.

Booking a flight through Amazon has a level of convenience for Amazon customers because they “can use their existing contact details as payment information, saving the effort of entering this information every time,” the company said.

“Building world-class travel experiences for our customers continues to be the primary focus of Cleartrip,” said Stuart Crighton, Cleartrip CEO, in a prepared statement. “Partnering with a trusted consumer brand like Amazon is an exciting development for us. They have built a large and engaged customer base which enjoy their convenient shopping and payment experiences. We are delighted to partner with them to jointly serve customers.”

Skift wrote a deep dive about superapps, Google Maps Is Ready to Transform the World of Superapps. In it, we discussed how WeChat and Meituan in China and Grab in Southeast Asia are becoming all-in-one superapps for e-commerce and financial services that go way beyond ridesharing and food delivery, for example.

Google Maps, which this week consolidated flights, lodging, and vacation packages in one place, is leaning toward becoming a comprehensive utility that will increasingly command users’ attention in the West, at least.

Now along comes Amazon, already a comprehensive e-commerce and payment app,  adding domestic flights in India as a modest next step in travel.

Additional international markets, as well as more travel products, including hotels and other types of lodging, could be in the offing if Amazon’s India experiment works out well.


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Tags: amazon, apps, flights, india, loyalty, mobile, superapp

Photo credit: Amazon Prime Air Boeing 767, photographed on August 8, 2016, from Wolfe Air Learjet 25B. Amazon launched a domestic flight service in India. Chad Slattery / Amazon

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