Amazon is buying 11 used Boeing 767-300 jets from Delta and WestJet as part of its rapidly expanding air cargo operation, the first time it has bought, rather than leased, planes for its fleet and a sign of increasing demand for cargo carriers and fast deliveries amid a pandemic that has seen passenger demand plummet.
Amazon bought its first aircraft to join its growing fleet of cargo aircraft.
The online behemoth announced Tuesday it would be buying four planes from WestJet Airlines and seven from Delta Air Lines “to continue delivering for customers across the U.S. in the way that they expect from Amazon.”
The aircraft from WestJet are being converted from passenger to cargo use, the online giant said, and are expected to join the company’s growing Amazon Air network, which is made up of leased aircraft, in 2021.
The seven planes from Delta are slated to join the fleet in 2022, the company added, stressing that it will “continue to rely on third-party carriers to operate these new aircraft.”
Amazon has been growing its air cargo fleet through leasing agreements in a bid to boost its ability to deliver parcels to consumers rapidly, particularly through its Prime services, which advertise overnight and two-day shipping. These services, and Amazon more broadly, have proven immensely popular during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the company’s skyward expansion coincides neatly with airlines desperately trying to cut costs as pandemic restrictions and wary passengers leave seats empty. Many airlines, such as Delta, are retiring planes early to save money.
85. Amazon says its cargo fleet will number 85 aircraft by the end of 2022, Bloomberg report.
What We Don’t Know
Amazon still touts its reliance on third-party delivery providers like FedEx and UPS but the expansion of its air cargo network echoes its wider plans to bring delivery in house. It is possible that the online retail giant, which has a growing network of trucks, vans and planes, may one day be able to rival these services. FedEx and Amazon have already parted ways on ground and express air delivery, with the courier saying that it wanted to focus on the “broader e-commerce market” in 2019.