Amazon is expanding its aircraft fleet with plans to increase its air cargo operations to more than 80 planes as the online retailer takes advantage of the weak aviation market.
The company announced on Wednesday June 4 that it had leased 12 converted Boeing 767-300 passenger planes from Air Transport Services Group Inc.
One was added to Amazon’s existing fleet of 70 aircraft last month, and the rest will be delivered in 2021, the e-commerce retailer said in a statement.
Bloomberg reported air transport shares have risen as much as 16 per cent as the aviation industry navigates through strict travel restrictions to limit the spread of Covid-19.
Amazon, meanwhile, is trying to keep up with a booming e-commerce business that has benefited from a surge in online shopping. The company unveiled the air cargo service, now called Amazon Air, in 2016 as it looked to rely less on carriers such as United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp.
“Amazon Air’s fleet expansion comes at a time when people in communities across the country continue to adjust to this unprecedented time, with many relying on having the items they need delivered directly to their doorstep,” the company said in a statement.
Amazon said its Air fleet has played a central role during the COVID-19 pandemic by transporting essential PPE supplies for Amazon associates, frontline health workers and relief organisations across the U.S., all while maintaining capacity for regular cargo operations to ensure customers continue to receive the items they need.
Sarah Rhoads, Vice President of Amazon Global Air said its air fleet is critical to ensuring fast delivery for our customers – both in the current environment we are facing, and beyond.
“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.”
Rich Corrado, President and CEO of ATSG said the Group is proud to continue to evolve our partnership with Amazon to support the fast delivery its famous for.
“Our combined experience in the industry and access to a fleet of 767 cargo aircraft make us an ideal partner to support the growth of Amazon Air’s fleet,” he said.
A report released last month by the DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute of Metropolitan Development estimated that Amazon Air may grow to 200 planes in the next seven or eight years.
“Amazon Air’s robust expansion makes it one of the biggest stories in the air cargo industry in years,” the study’s authors wrote.