E-commerce behemoth amazon.com inc. is expanding its air cargo operations again, announcing today that it has begun running flights through Florida’s Lakeland Linder International Airport in a move to keep up with continued demand for online shopping during the coronavirus pandemic.
The first flight was scheduled to arrive this afternoon from Sacramento International Airport in California, beginning the first of many daily flights at the facility, Seattle-based Amazon said. Lakeland Linder International Airport (LAL) is located midway between Tampa and Orlando with quick access to Interstate 4 via the Polk Parkway, according to the airport’s website.
The move has been expected since Amazon said in June that it planned to open the Florida site as its newest “regional air hub,” joining other nodes in the company’s air cargo network including Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Austin, Texas, and Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
As fast as its growth has been since launching in 2016, Amazon Air is on track to see an even bigger leap in capabilities in 2021, when it will open both its western air freight hub at California’s San Bernardino International Airport and also its central air hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. The company is already flying cargo through the Cincinnati location while it constructs a $1.5 billion expansion of the facility.
Also in 2021, Amazon is scheduled to add new cargo jets to its fleet in a move to keep those ground processing sites busy. The company announced in June that it had agreed to lease 12 Boeing 767 jets, bringing its total network to over 80 aircraft when they are delivered next year.
“We are excited to launch our Amazon Air operation at LAL so we can continue to deliver the fast, free shipping our customers in Florida and across the country depend on during this time,” Sarah Rhoads, vice president of Amazon Global Air, said in a release.