Amazon has taken a big step toward expanding its air cargo operations with the announcement of its first aircraft purchase. Until now, the company has leased cargo aircraft for its delivery operations, something that has grown considerably in the past few years, leading to roads full of dark blue Amazon-branded cargo vans.
Amazon is purchasing 11 aircraft from WestJet Airlines and Delta Air Lines, according to Bloomberg, which reports that the planes will be converted to carry cargo instead of passengers.
Amazon Air is part of the company’s Amazon Transportation Network, which includes an air hub located at the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati International Airport. The company boasts gateway facilities in places like Wilmington, OH, Riverside, CA, and Alliance, TX, as well — with these, Amazon has what it describes as ‘dedicated parking spots’ at airports for its operations.
The transportation network is a key aspect of getting Prime customers their packages in a day or two. Amazon aims to get the aircraft purchased from Delta into service in 2022, according to the report, with a spokesperson saying Amazon expects it will have 85 or so aircraft in service by the end of that year.
It’s no surprise that Amazon has made the decision to purchase some planes of its own — air traffic was considerably low in 2020 and many airlines ended up putting a number of their aircraft in storage as a result, making for a market in Amazon’s favor. The company will continue to lease aircraft for Amazon Air, as well.