Amazon is adding 12 Boeing 737 aircraft to its dedicated fleet of cargo jets. The company said the move would help it to cope more efficiently with evolving demand and a growing customer base.
The leased planes will expand Amazon Air’s fleet to a total of 82 aircraft. One of the 12 planes went into service last month, while the other 11 will be delivered in 2021.
Referencing the coronavirus pandemic and the challenges that it has brought the company, Amazon executive Sarah Rhoads said: “Amazon Air is critical to ensuring fast delivery for our customers — both in the current environment we are facing, and beyond.”
Rhoads added: “During a time when so many of our customers rely on us to get what they need without leaving their homes, expanding our dedicated air network ensures we have the capacity to deliver what our customers want: great selection, low prices, and fast shipping speeds.”
Amazon leased its first aircraft in 2015 as part of a trial effort aimed at boosting its U.S. shipping operation. The e-commerce giant began looking at the idea of taking charge of more aspects of its delivery system after experiencing severe logistical issues during the 2013 holiday season when several major shipping firms became overwhelmed by an unexpectedly large number of packages. The chaotic episode that led to many customers receiving their orders late. As an apology, Amazon offered affected shoppers a $20 gift card, and a short while later the company revealed it was “reviewing the performance of the delivery carriers.”
As part of this week’s announcement, Amazon was also keen to point out that the expansion of its fleet of aircraft isn’t just about getting orders to customers more quickly.
Amazon Air, it said, is also playing an important role during the pandemic by transporting essential supplies of personal protective equipment for Amazon workers, front-line health workers, and relief organizations across the U.S.
The company faced criticism early on in the pandemic as warehouse employees accused it of failing to provide proper protection in the workplace. A number of Amazon warehouse workers have died after contracting the coronavirus. Amazon has been working to improve the situation, but this week it emerged that three employees in New York City have sued the company alleging lax safety measures in response to the virus.
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