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Forget drones, Amazon wants to use own cargo planes to improve shipping operation

We heard last month that Amazon’s been operating four cargo planes out of a state-of-the-art facility in Wilmington, Ohio, in a bid to improve the efficiency of its nationwide shipping operation and hopefully avoid the problems sometimes served up by established firms like UPS and FedEx.

The trial, curiously dubbed “Aerosmith,” has evidently been going well, as the online retail giant is now in talks to lease 20 Boeing 767 jets to expand the operation, the Seattle Times said Friday.

Amazon has reportedly been in talks with several cargo-aircraft firms, and wants to get the initiative off the ground by the end of January. It’s thought the additional aircraft will also operate out of Wilmington, a facility that once served as a major hub for DHL, handling around a million packages a day for the shipping firm between 2003 and 2008.

New Boeing 767 jets are thought to cost up to $650,000 a month to lease. Amazon, however, is expected to lease older planes at the start, which cost about half as much.

Amazon “pretty fed up”

An analyst told the Times that Amazon “is pretty fed up with the third-party carriers being a bottleneck to their growth,” an issue that came into sharp focus a couple of years ago when several big-name shipping firms struggled to cope with the large number of packages in their systems.

Many customers’ deliveries were delayed, forcing Seattle-based Amazon to offer $20 gift cards by way of apology. Following the mess, it promised to review the performance of the delivery carriers, a process that apparently led to its interest in running its own cargo operation.

Related: Amazon opens its first brick-and-mortar store

The e-commerce company is always looking at ways to bolster its delivery operation, especially in the final stage from warehouse to customer. To get packages delivered in super-quick time – within an hour for some Prime members – the company currently uses subways and bicycles, and has also launched an Uber-style system to get more delivery drivers on board. Work on its ambitious delivery drone plan also continues, with the company recently unveiling an all-new design for its flying machine.