Many people turned to Amazon to buy all sorts of things during the pandemic, and they wanted their orders to come quickly. That’s why the company has rapidly grown its delivery capabilities, both on the ground and in the air. To make the buying process from sale to delivery more efficient, Amazon has begun purchasing its own cargo airplanes as well.
Does Amazon have its own planes?
Amazon Air, which was previously called Prime Air, was launched in 2016. In January 2021, Amazon announced that it had purchased 11 jets from Delta and WestJet airlines to join its fleet of planes, reports the Chicago Tribune. The planes are all Boeing 767-300s, and they’ll be modified from passenger planes to cargo planes.
The four planes coming from WestJet will be transferred to Amazon in 2021, and the seven coming from Delta will be added in 2022. The company has not announced how much it has paid for the 11 new planes.
Why did Amazon buy its own planes?
The company bought the planes to increase its delivery network and deliver orders faster across long distances. Before this purchase, Amazon only leased planes to make its deliveries. The Amazon Air fleet now includes both leased and owned planes.
“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,” Sarah Rhoads, Vice President of Amazon Global Air, said in an Amazon blog post. “Having a mix of both leased and owned aircraft in our growing fleet allows us to manage better our operations, which, in turn, helps us to keep pace with meeting our customer promises.” With the 11 new planes, the company will have 85 planes in its fleet by 2022.
Plans for the fleet of planes
Amazon’s fleet of planes will have grown from 50 in February 2020 to 85 in 2022, says CNBC. Most of the planes not owned by the company are leased from Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings and Air Transport Services Group. Amazon continues to use third-party carriers to operate the planes, but it is beginning to hire its own ground staff in some locations.
Amazon doesn’t yet have as many planes as FedEx, which operates 679 planes, or UPS, which operates 572 planes, but it could grow into a position where it also offers shipping services for third parties, says CNBC. A study from DePaul University, done in May 2020, predicted that the delivery company could have 200 planes by 2027 or 2028, says Modern Retail.
Amazon expands its delivery services
Operating its own planes adds to Amazon’s expansion of its own delivery capabilities. The company now has fewer deliveries going through the U.S. Postal Service, UPS, FedEx, and other shipping services. Additionally, Amazon has made efforts to make the use of its planes more environmentally friendly. The company bought six million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel in 2020, and it has purchased electric ground service equipment and solar panels for some facilities.
The company also recently started using its own delivery trucks, including Ford Transit, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, and Ram ProMaster work vans. It will also be adding electric trucks made by Rivian, says MotorTrend. In addition to its planes and trucks, Amazon now also has package-sorting hubs located in airports in the United States and one in Leipzig, Germany, as well as new warehouses. These many changes signal not only Amazon’s overall growth as a company but also its shipping capabilities, a long-term commitment to cargo transportation, and a move away from third-party contractors.