E-commerce behemoth amazon.com Inc. is expanding its fleet of aircraft as consumers continue to drive hot growth for online shopping during the coronavirus pandemic, announcing today that it will lease 12 Boeing 767-300 converted cargo aircraft from Air Transport Services Group (ATSG).
Just one of the airplanes has started performing air cargo operations, but the move will bring Amazon’s total network to over 80 aircraft when they are all delivered by 2021.
The Seattle-based company said its Amazon Air division has balanced two roles during the Covid-19 pandemic, transporting personal protective equipment (PPE) for Amazon associates, frontline health workers, and relief organizations at the same time that it maintains capacity for regular cargo operations.
Now the expanded cargo capacity will allow Amazon to continue to meet evolving demand and a growing customer base, the company said. “Amazon Air is critical to ensuring fast delivery for our customers – both in the current environment we are facing, and beyond,” Sarah Rhoads, vice president of Amazon Global Air, said in a release. “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.”
Since Amazon Air’s launch in 2016, the unit has grown quickly. In May, the company named California’s San Bernardino International Airport as its western air freight hub in a move that is expected to bring thousands of jobs to the former Air Force base when the facility opens in 2021. Amazon has said it will also open a regional air hub at Lakeland Linder International Airport in Florida later this summer, along with its central Amazon Air Hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 2021. The company recently began gateway operations at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Austin, Texas, and Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico.