Amazon makes aircraft purchase foray with 11 B767s

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E-commerce and logistics giant, Amazon announces its first-ever purchase of eleven B767-300 aircraft for conversion into freighters for its in-house cargo airline.

The purchases include seven aircraft from Delta and four from Canada’s WestJet, which will join the network beginning in 2021 through 2022 and be operated by third party companies.

ACMI operators, Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings and the Air Transport Services Group (ATSG) subsidiary carriers, ATI International and ABX Air, operate some 40 B767-300Fs for Amazon Air. Atlas’ Southern Air along with Sun Country Airlines and ASL Airlines all operate B737-800Fs for the company.

Amazon Air’s fleet expansion comes at a time when e-commerce demand continues to accelerate on the back of the global Covid-19 pandemic – tripling in volume since March 2020 – driving increased demand for expedited shipping.

The purchase also comes at a time when passenger airlines continue to struggle amid global travel restrictions which have created a glut of aircraft on the market and a shift away from older, less efficient models.

The four WestJet B767s were pulled from the carrier’s Europe service last year and have subsequently been replaced with B787 aircraft. Amazon acquired the WestJet aircraft in March and the B767s are currently undergoing passenger to cargo (P2F) conversion and will join Amazon Air’s network in 2021, the company says. The seven aircraft from Delta will enter Amazon’s air cargo network in 2022.

“Our goal is to continue delivering for customers across the US in the way that they expect from Amazon, and purchasing our own aircraft is a natural next step toward that goal,” says Sarah Rhoads, VP of Amazon Global Air. “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.”

The e-commerce and logistics company says its air wing “plays a central role in delivering for customers by transporting items across longer distances in shorter timeframes”. It goes on to say that while these fleet additions will “ensure added capacity in Amazon Air’s network for years to come,” it will continue to rely on third-party carriers to operate these new aircraft.

Amazon Air has also continued its expansion beyond its domestic market, launching its first-ever international air hub at Leipzig/Halle Airport (LEJ) in German last November. The company also launched new regional air operations at Lakeland Linder International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Richmond International Airport, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, Kahului Airport, Kona International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, and Louis Armstrong International Airport.

Amazon is scheduled to open a large West Coast hub in San Bernardino, California, early this year, and its USD 1.5 billion national hub at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport this summer.

This summer, Amazon Air announced its purchase of 22.7 million litres of sustainable aviation fuel and has previously invested in leading-edge electric ground service equipment and solar rooftop panels planned at some facilities.


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