Just days after FedEx announced that it was ending its air cargo contracts with Amazon, the online retail giant has responded with an announcement that it will expand its in-house air cargo fleet to 70 aircraft by 2021.
Amazon, which recently purchased SOUQ in the UAE and re-branded it as Amazon.ae, says it’s leasing an additional 15 Boeing 737-800 cargo aircraft from partner GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS). These will join the five Boeing 737-800’s already leased from GECAS.
The aircraft at present only operate within the United States, on 20 air freight gateways in the Amazon Air network.
Amazon plans to expand this network with the new planes, and will open more air facilities in 2019, including at Fort Worth Alliance Airport, Wilmington Air Park and Chicago Rockford International Airport. Meanwhile, the main Air Hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport will open in 2021.
“We’re delighted to support Amazon Air’s dedicated air network,” said Richard Greener, GECAS Cargo’s senior vice president. “The capability of the 737-800 freighter will further Amazon’s ability to provide reliable and regional delivery to its customers for years to come.”
The Amazon Air network was first launched in 2016 as Prime Air, with the goal of speeding up Amazon’s e-commerce deliveries, particularly for its Prime members.
However, increasing competition with partner-rivals like FedEx has created tension, which has led to further expansion.
At the end of last year, Amazon announced more aircraft additions for Amazon Air, increasing the fleet from 40 planes to 50. Now, it says it’s on track to reach 70 planes by 2021, thanks to this new expansion.
“These new aircraft create additional capacity for Amazon Air, building on the investment in our Prime Free One-Day program,” said Dave Clark, senior vice president of Worldwide Operations at Amazon, in an announcement. “By 2021, Amazon Air will have a portfolio of 70 aircraft flying in our dedicated air network.”