Amazon’s enormous and highly complex shipping operation has been given a boost with the purchase of 11 Boeing 767-300 jets.
The move is notable as it’s the first time the online shopping giant has opted to purchase — rather than lease — aircraft to transport products around the country.
Taking advantage of a pandemic-impacted market that’s seen passenger airlines slash services and ground planes, Amazon bought seven aircraft from Delta and four from Canadian carrier WestJet
The WestJet aircraft will join Amazon’s existing fleet this year once the planes have been converted for cargo use, while the Delta jets will be put to work sometime next year. By the end of 2022, Amazon expects to have 85 cargo planes crisscrossing the U.S.
Commenting on Amazon’s first-ever aircraft purchase, Sarah Rhoads, vice president of Amazon Global Air, said: “Our goal is to continue delivering for customers across the U.S. in the way that they expect from Amazon, and purchasing our own aircraft is a natural next step toward that goal.”
Rhoads added: “Having a mix of both leased and owned aircraft in our growing fleet allows us to better manage our operations, which in turn helps us to keep pace in meeting our customer promises.”
Amazon started leasing planes in 2015 as part of efforts to transport items across longer distances in shorter time frames, thereby streamlining its shipping operation. The move was prompted in part by a calamitous 2013 holiday season for Amazon in which major shipping firms found themselves overwhelmed by an unexpectedly large number of packages, causing delays in delivery.
The e-commerce company apologized with a $20 gift card sent to affected customers, and soon after it revealed it was “reviewing the performance of the delivery carriers.” While it still uses the likes of FedEx and UPS, Amazon has made significant strides in recent years to take more control of its shipping operation.
In May 2019, for example, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos broke ground on a 3 million-square-foot cargo facility and 250,000-square-foot loading dock at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. Local media described it as being as large as 31 Great American Ball Parks — the home field of the Cincinnati Reds. When it’s completed later this year, the $1.5 billion facility will have space for up to 100 Amazon Air planes and employ around 2,000 people.
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