Another link in its logistics chain: Amazon announces new regional air hub

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Amazon announced that construction has begun on a Regional Air Hub at the Fort Worth Alliance Airport in the US state of Texas, the e-commerce giant said on Tuesday.

The announcement comes quickly on the heels of Amazon’s announcement that it is building a USD 1.5 billion hub at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport, and will be boosting its operations at an air park in Wilmington, Ohio.

Seattle-based Amazon said the Fort Worth Regional Air Hub – slated to be operational next year – will help support the company’s initiative to facilitate two-day parcel delivery in its Amazon Prime service.

The Regional Air Hub will include a purpose-built facility for Amazon Air’s needs and will feature sortation capability and the necessary infrastructure to handle multiple flights daily, the company said. Amazon did not indicate the size of the facility, nor the level of investment.

Amazon Air - Sarah Rhoads
Sarah Rhoads

“We are excited to build a brand-new facility from the ground up at the Fort Worth Alliance Airport,” said Amazon Air director Sarah Rhoads in a statement. “The new facility is the first of its kind for us and we’re thrilled to ensure we have the capacity to continue to delight our customers.”

The move furthers speculation that Amazon’s ambitions to control a far greater portion of its logistics chain will ultimately hurt FedEx and UPS who provide air express services to Amazon. A recent report from Wall Street investment firm Morgan Stanley warned that the market had underestimated the impact Amazon’s moves to establish its own supply chain will have on both FedEx and UPS.

A spokesperson for the Fort Worth Alliance Airport said the facility is the centerpiece of the Alliance Global Logistics Hub, which also includes BNSF Railway’s Alliance Intermodal Facility, the FedEx Southwest Regional Sort Hub, BNSF and Union Pacific Class I rail lines, and access to several highways and interstates.

Billed as the world’s first purely industrial airport, Alliance Airport was developed in a joint venture between the City of Fort Worth, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Hillwood Development Company, a real estate development company owned by Ross Perot, Jr.

Fort-Worth-Alliance-Airport  afw
Fort Worth Alliance Airport (AFW)

Now city-owned and operated, the airport is the cornerstone of the sprawling 10,521 hectare Alliance Texas light manufacturing and multi-modal transportation project kicked off 30 years ago by Perot and his Hillwood development company.

Alliance Airport is about 24 km north of downtown Fort Worth and 19 km west of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and features two runways (2,926 m and 3,356 m) capable of handling large freighters. FedEx has operated a large southwest regional sorting and air hub there for more than two decades while a number of other aviation parties, including the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, have large aviation-related operations there as well.

Amazon currently leases 40 B767 freighters, operated on its behalf by Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings and Air Transport Services Group (ATSG). Ongoing buzz in the industry points to Amazon Air’s hunt for additional B767 freighter capacity, but a tight supply market may force Amazon Air to consider A330 freighters say industry observers.

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