E-retail giant Amazon has reportedly registered its first owned freighter, as the group continues to assert greater control over its freight and logistics capacity.
Up until now, Amazon’s growing PrimeAir fleet of freighter aircraft have been all leased, but last month the company officially registered its first B767 freighter directly with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), aviation website paxex.aero reports.
The registration N503AZ was issued on 31 August to Amazon.com Services LLC, with the aircraft set to serve as part of the company’s PrimeAir flight operations. According to paxex.aero, Amazon currently has five N-Numbers reserved with the FAA, including the one currently active for N503AZ.
The move comes alongside the issuance of Amazon’s first Part 135 Airline Operations Certificate (AOC). And as paxex.aero reports, Amazon’s launch into own-registered freighter operations links with Amazon’s recent approval for testing of drone services under its Part 135 AOC. That approval allows the company to continue and expand its trial services of the drone delivery service.
In June, Amazon announced that it is to lease 12 additional cargo aircraft, increasing its dedicated air cargo fleet to 82 freighters, as it bids to further expand and take ever-greater control of its logistics systems.
The e-retail and e-commerce logistics giant announced the lease of 12 Boeing 767-300 converted cargo aircraft from US aircraft group Air Transport Services Group (ATSG), as it “continues to adapt to meet the changing needs of customers by investing in ways to provide fast, free delivery”. One of the new aircraft joined Amazon’s air cargo operations in May, with the remaining 11 to be delivered in 2021, when “they will join Amazon’s existing fleet of 70 aircraft to bring its total network to over 80 aircraft”.
The company said the expansion of its fleet came at a time when the current coronavirus pandemic had further highlighted the role and need for fast and efficient e-commerce logistics, noting: “Amazon Air’s fleet expansion comes at a time when people in communities across the country continue to adjust to this unprecedented time, with many relying on having the items they need delivered directly to their doorstep.
“Amazon Air has played a central role during the COVID-19 pandemic by transporting essential PPE supplies for Amazon associates, frontline health workers and relief organizations across the US, all while maintaining capacity for regular cargo operations to ensure customers continue to receive the items they need. Now, with expanded cargo capacity to come, Amazon will continue to meet evolving demand and a growing customer base.”
Sarah Rhoads, vice president of Amazon Global Air, commented: “Amazon Air is critical to ensuring fast delivery for our customers – both in the current environment we are facing, and beyond. During a time when so many of our customers rely on us to get what they need without leaving their homes, expanding our dedicated air network ensures we have the capacity to deliver what our customers want: great selection, low prices and fast shipping speeds.”
Amazon stressed that it also “continues to expand on-the-ground operations in addition to aircraft”. Amazon was scheduled to open new regional air hubs at Lakeland Linder International Airport in Florida this summer and at San Bernardino International Airport next year, along with the central Amazon Air Hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 2021.
In May, Amazon Air began gateway operations at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Austin, Texas, and Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico. “Since Amazon Air’s launch in 2016, Amazon has invested hundreds of millions of dollars and created thousands of new jobs at Amazon Air locations across the US,” the company stressed.
Rich Corrado, president and CEO of ATSG, commented: “We are proud to continue to evolve our partnership with Amazon to support the fast, free delivery for which they are famous. Our combined experience in the industry and access to a fleet of 767 cargo aircraft make us an ideal partner to support the growth of Amazon Air’s fleet.”