Amazon gets its own branded air cargo plane with 39 more to follow

The retailer plans to roll out 40 aircraft for the service in the next two years

Holding out the promise of quicker deliveries to its customers, Amazon.com on Thursday unveiled Amazon One, the company’s first branded air cargo plane.

The online retailer said the first branded aircraft will be showcased over the weekend at the Seafair Air Show in Seattle. The Boeing 767-300, seen in this video being painted with the Amazon logos, is one of 40 airplanes that the company has agreed to lease through air cargo partners Atlas Air and Air Transport Services Group and will be rolling out over the next couple of years.

Amazon currently has 11 dedicated airplanes flying for it, with Amazon One the first in the fleet to be branded, Amanda Ip, an Amazon spokeswoman, wrote in an email. 

The company’s entry into air logistics suggests that it wants greater control and higher efficiency over the movement of its goods at the backend. It is not clear at this point whether the new network could down the line impact Amazon’s current ties with UPS and FedEx. "We utilize a variety of great carriers and expect to continue doing so," Ip said.

Amazon has been experimenting with new ways of speeding up the delivery of packages to its customers, including using drones for home deliveries. The air cargo service has the Prime Air name that the company gave to its drone service, which has been delayed awaiting relevant regulations from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. "Prime Air represents a family of programs we’re utilizing to fly packages – air cargo planes and our innovative drone program," Ip said.

Having focused so far largely on fulfillment centers and the supply chain, Amazon is now addressing the transportation side of the operations, wrote Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, in a blog post.

The plane network helps Amazon serve customers and the company is optimistic about the efficiencies it will offer, including with regard to cost, Ip said.  "These planes will be used to supplement and secure additional capacity to support one and two-day delivery for our rapidly growing number of Prime members," she added.

Amazon, which has over 125 fulfillment centers and over 20 sortation centers, which use hi-tech including robotics to speed up deliveries, has in the past also introduced a dedicated network of 4,000 trailers to increase trucking capacity, and a program called Amazon Flex, an app-based service that allows drivers that are not employed by the company to sign up to deliver parcels for Amazon through the app.

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John Ribeiro

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