Amazon Makes First Direct Aircraft Purchases

 - January 5, 2021, 11:48 AM
An Atlas Air Boeing 767-300 operating for Amazon approaches Houston Intercontinental Airport in April 2019. (Photo: Flickr: Creative Commons (BY) by Patrick Feller)

Amazon has bought seven Boeing 767-300s from Delta Air Lines and four from Canada’s WestJet as it moves to expand its air transport network to meet surging demand during the Covid-19 crisis and beyond, the company said Tuesday. The deals mark the online retailer’s first direct aircraft purchases. The four WestJet aircraft, now undergoing passenger-to-cargo conversion, will join Amazon’s network this year and the Delta jets will begin flying freight for the online retailer in 2022, the company added. All will fly for third-party carriers.

“Having a mix of both leased and owned aircraft in our growing fleet allows us to better manage our operations, which in turn helps us to keep pace in meeting our customer promises,” said Amazon Air v-p Sarah Rhoads.

Last year Amazon launched its first-ever air hub at Leipzig/Halle Airport in Germany and new regional air operations at 11 other airports, including New York JFK and Chicago O’Hare.

Amazon launched its air transport subsidiary as a means to circumvent and compete against freight giants such as UPS and FedEx Express in 2016, when it signed a seven-year lease deal covering 20 Boeing 767s with Delaware-based air cargo service provider ATSG. Company subsidiaries ABX Air, a Part 121 cargo airline, and charter carrier Air Transport International, operate the airplanes for Amazon. That same year Atlas Air Worldwide signed a deal with Amazon to fly 20 Boeing 767-300s for the online retailer under a 10-year lease deal that grants Amazon rights to acquire as much as 30 percent of the cargo carrier. 

Amazon’s contract carriers now fly a total of 66 airplanes, including 22 Boeing 737-800BCFs.