Last week, Seattle-based global e-commerce announced another expansion to its air fleet, Amazon Global Air.
Amazon Global Air Vice President Sarah Rhoads wrote in a blog posting that the company is adding 10 Airbus A330-300s leased from aircraft lessor, Altavair, to Amazon’s aircraft fleet. She explained that the aircraft are undergoing passenger-to-cargo conversion and will be the first A330 freighter conversions to operate in the U.S. upon entering the Amazon network in late 2023.
And she added that, in late 2023, Amazon will also be phasing out some older aircraft as well.
“These A330s will not only be the first of their kind in our fleet, but they’ll also be the newest, largest aircraft for Amazon Air, allowing us to deliver more customer packages with each flight,” noted Rhoads. “Additionally, we are bringing on a new partner, Hawaiian Airlines, which will maintain and operate these aircraft on our behalf. This reflects the results they deliver as a renowned airline with their own A330 fleet. We’re thrilled to have these new partners joining us for this next chapter of Amazon Air’s journey, and I can’t wait to watch these birds take flight next year.”
The Amazon executive also highlighted how over the last two years Amazon has been very active on the air cargo front, as it has continued to add more aircraft to its fleet, with more than 110 currently in its global network. And the company also opened its U.S. hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in Hebron, KY in August 2021. As previously reported. Amazon had been planning and building out operations for this $1.5 billion investment over four-year period, and it said that this hub will serve as the central hub for the for the Amazon Air U.S. cargo network, “facilitating the rapid transport of customer packages across the country. And it added that this investment will result in creating 2,000 jobs, for people from various backgrounds, for positions involving load planning, management of package sortation, and robotics technology.
In January 2021, Amazon announced it had taken significant steps to expand its growing transportation fleet, purchasing 11 Boeing 767-300 aircraft. This marked the first time the company has purchased aircraft, as it has traditionally procured airfreight capacity through leases.
The company said that seven aircraft were purchased from Delta, with the remaining four from WestJet, adding that these aircraft will be part of Amazon’s network by 2022.
Amazon Air’s fleet expansion comes at a time when customers are relying on fast, free shipping more than ever, noted an industry observer, adding that these fleet additions will ensure added capacity in Amazon Air’s network for years to come. What’s more, the observer noted that Amazon is constantly assessing its transportation fleet and network to determine what it needs to support fast, free shipping for customers.
Morgan Stanley analyst Ravi Shanker wrote in a research note that the new agreements to expand the reach and capacity of Amazon Air “show that the operation is still in expansion mode even if aggressive growth may somewhat be on the back burner due to potential excess capacity.”
What’s more, this expansion by Amazon comes at a time when FedEx recently announced it is lowering its aircraft roster, due to macroeconomic weakness in Asia and service challenges in Europe, and took subsequent actions, including a reduction in flight frequencies and temporarily parking aircraft.