Amazon is purchasing, rather than its usual leasing, 11 used Boeing 767-300 planes. This is the first time the online retail giant has purchased an aircraft for its fast-growing air cargo operation, the company announced on Tuesday.
Amazon is buying seven aircraft from Delta Air Lines Inc. and four from WestJet Airlines Ltd. Currently; the WestJet aircraft are under conversion from passenger to cargo use. This year, they will join Amazon’s fleet. At the same time, the Delta jets will start flying routes in 2022. More than 85 planes are expected to be in service for Amazon by the end of next year, a spokesperson said.
In recent years, American E-Commerce giant, Amazon, has rapidly expanded its air cargo operations to speed up the delivery of packages to customers and supplement capacity from carriers such as United Parcel Service (UPS).
With tens of thousands of cargo vans, Amazon has built up its own delivery operation. Still, the Seattle-based company has gone out of its way to highlight its continued reliance on other cargo companies. However, Amazon already has emerged as a competitor to partners that only a few years ago delivered almost all of its goods, as it handles most of its own deliveries. FedEx refused to renew its air-delivery contract with Amazon in 2019.
Amazon’s fleet is reportedly likely to grow to 200 aircraft in the coming years, rivalling UPS in size. According to Bloomberg, “Amazon operates mostly from smaller, regional airports close to its warehouses, routing packages between locations to accommodate quick delivery.”
The deals announced on Tuesday marks the second time Amazon has moved while taking advantage of the depressed market for aircraft since the Covid-19 pandemic crippled air travel and sent many aircraft into storage. Amazon announced it was leasing an additional 12 planes in June and as with the leased planes, the newly purchased aircraft will be operated by contractors.
“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, the vice president who runs Amazon’s air fleet, said in a statement. “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 in meeting our customer promises.”