What Is Amazon Air?




In the fast-moving pace of today’s technology, you could be forgiven for mistaking Amazon Air as a prequel to the commercialization of oxygen.  Luckily for us, this level of tech dystopia is some good distance away and hopefully, just the result of an overactive imagination.

Much less disturbing is Amazon Air (formally known as Amazon Prime Air) -  Amazon.com’s own cargo hub of airplanes that have been flying across the US since 2016.

Anyone that knows Amazon, knows it is more than just a website.  As one the Big Four tech firms next to Google, Apple and Facebook, Amazon’s lengthy tentacles stretch across e-commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, artificial intelligence, and the must-lesser-known airfreight industry, which we’re going to focus on in this article.

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Amazon Air: A Prime Cargo Solution

The key to Amazon’s unprecedented success has been its consistent fearlessness in disrupting the status quo, especially this year.  When Amazon founder Jeff Bezos introduced the idea of selling books on the internet as a doorway to interacting online, nobody was prepared for the snowball of innovation that has turned the tech company into the e-commerce deity it is today. Having commercialized online payments, introduced a vast number of easy-to-find products, and super-fast shipping, the online shopping world has a lot to thank Amazon for.

As part of Amazon’s mission to be the most ‘customer-centric’ company in the world, it's business strategy is to reduce as much friction as possible when it comes to the customer experience.  Working along the verticals of its logistical operations, Amazon is constantly looking to have maximum control in all stages of its supply chain to stay as efficient as possible.


The Problem

One area that has never been quite under Amazon’s command is shipping.  Despite multimillion-dollar partnerships with global shipping firms like DHL and UPS, inefficient or late shipping services had been some of the most highlighted issues experienced by Amazon customers and one the e-commerce firm has been more determined to get right.

When Amazon experienced acute logistical problems during the 2013 holiday season, one of the busiest and most profitable times of the year for businesses, it seriously began to consider its independent options.  Several leading shipping companies were unable to cope with an unexpectedly high volume of holiday packages, resulting in severe delivery delays and thousands of unhappy customers.  Following the number of returns and profit losses incurred from the chaotic situation, Amazon revealed it was reviewing the performance of delivery carriers and so began its pursuit in tackling its shipping problems.


The Solution

In 2015, Amazon finally bit the bullet and announced a trial of branded air cargo runs

out of Wilmington Air Park, Ohio.  Some few months later, scheduled operations began with 20 leased Boeing 767 aircraft, as part of an effort to shift Amazon-ordered products closer to their destinations without relying on cross-state specialists FedEx and UPS.

A couple of years later, Amazon announced that its new air cargo service, Amazon Air, would make Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) its principal hub as part of a $1.49 billion project “to revolutionize the fulfillment industry worldwide.” As many as 100 Amazon Airplanes are projected to use the facility when it opens in 2021.

The Amazon Air fleet currently holds over 40 Boeing aircraft and is manned by three operating teams.  There are a total of 18 Boeing 767-200SF planes and 26 Boeing 767-300BCF planes now at Amazon’s disposal.  

Although Amazon’s shipping costs (sorting process, delivery center, and transportation) rose from $11.5 to $27.7 billion between 2015 and 2018, it takes less than half the time to transport freight packages than FedEx or UPS - allowing Amazon to get closer to its commitment to getting customers their products quickly and efficiently.

While Amazon still relies heavily on other shipping companies to get the majority of its work done, the company continues to heavily invest in major transportation projects like Amazon Air to reduce dependency and move even closer to complete supply chain independence.

Looking to the future, Amazon has plans for daily flights and package sorting based out of a new facility in Wilmington, Ohio.  The cargo fleet also recently expanded to Miami International Airport in Florida. Amazon Air’s impact on consumers, e-commerce sellers, and the business world itself will continue to grow along with its fleet. Now knowing it’s possible, other large entities may adopt their own fleets to facilitate more efficient shipping.

"While Amazon still relies heavily on other shipping companies...Amazon Air  [will] reduce dependency and move even closer to complete supply chain  independence."  -Click to Tweet-

A Rebrand


Amazon Air was originally called Amazon Prime Air but had to rebrand due to the company’s wider ambitions to dominate air delivery services.   The name ‘Amazon Prime Air’ was transferred to Amazon’s drone-based delivery concept, which is currently pending approval by the Federal Aviation Administration. Amazon Air refers to the cargo airline that ships its freight.


The Benefits Of Amazon Air

For Amazon, the benefits of having a self-sufficient air freight fleet are clear.  The fewer middlemen the company needs to rely on, the more it can control its logistics to truly serve customers how they want to be served - quickly, efficiently, and on time.

There are, however, even greater benefits for customers and the economy, such as the following:

Anticipation for the holiday season. With enough in-house data to accurately predict times of demand, Amazon Air freight logistics can be planned in advance for maximum efficiency with no more unexpected package volumes.

Exclusive for Amazon customers. While other shipping companies have other websites and customers to cater to, Amazon Air is a dedicated service for Amazon customers only.  With no competition taking up valuable cargo space, customers enjoy a speedy, frictionless product delivery at all times.

More jobs.  Every step Amazon Air takes comes with new opportunities, including brand new jobs.  Amazon will need contractors to build further freight hubs around the country (and eventually the world), technicians to work on their fleet, and pilots to fly the planes - and they likely have much more aircraft leases planned for the future.

Impact on Latin American trade.  Every country deals with its own economic struggles, and some regions show great promise.  Latin America looks to become more involved in the world of e-commerce, which makes Amazon’s decision to partner up with the Miami International Airport all the more promising.  No other airport in the United States sees more freight shipped to Latin America and the Caribbean, making Miami International a kingpin of international commerce.  This puts Amazon in a good position for expansion, and it’s a good sign for global e-commerce as a whole.




What Amazon Air Means For You

Now that you know all about Amazon’s Air fleet, it’s brief history, and it’s potential, how exactly does this information apply to you as a business owner?  If Amazon is your primary platform for running your business, then you’re probably familiar with the plethora of tools they give you to increase your brand exposure, network with other buyers and sellers in your niche, and keep your day-to-day running smoothly.  So what does Amazon Air mean for you?

As you may have gathered by now, the fleet of aircraft will make Amazon more efficient for e-commerce.  With all the extra cargo space, Amazon Air allows for more efficient deliveries, and your customers won’t have to wait to receive the items they order.  

Is your Amazon store optimized and ready to meet the inevitable higher influx of customers?

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