Cargo Facts reports that Amazon has bought three Boeing 767-300ERs for conversion from Delta Air Lines. The three aircraft are registered as N1610D, N1611B, and N1612T, according to data from Planespotters.net.
Amazon Air has been flying for a few years now. However, the airline has traditionally not flown its own aircraft and instead dry leased aircraft operated by other airlines, including cargo giant Atlas Air.
Amazon Air has a fleet of both Boeing 737-800 converted freighters and Boeing 767 converted freighters. This fleet has grown to nearly 70 jets over the last four years. The air cargo business with Amazon will only continue to grow as Amazon grows its operations, expands its delivery centres, and flies more packages, reports London's Simple Flying.
In December of 2019, Sun Country Airlines announced it would be operating ten Boeing 737-800 cargo freighters under the Amazon Air network. Sun Country, normally a passenger low-cost carrier and charter airline that flies to around 300 airports in a year, was expanding its portfolio to include cargo flying for an ever-growing freight giant. Those cargo flights started earlier this year. Data from Planespotters.net shows that Amazon has expanded that partnership with Sun Country Airlines.
Passenger-to-freighter conversions are common in the industry. These permanent conversions allow for passenger planes to be outfitted for carrying freight. The conversion sees the planes receive large cargo doors, making loading and unloading heavy cargo much easier.
The conversions take time, but Boeing does offer several conversion lines for customers who want to take older passenger jets and send them into cargo operations.
Cargo carriers tend to fly some older aircraft and ex-passenger jets. These planes are cheaper to acquire, and cargo does not complain about the age of an aircraft. Cargo carriers do not have to invest in upgrading the interiors of planes, and they do not work their aircraft as hard as some of the passenger carriers.
Delta Air Lines has a fleet of 34 Boeing 767-300ERs. It has retired over 20 of the type already in 2020 as it moves to a more efficient and streamlined fleet. All the Boeing 767-300ERs will be retired by December 2025.
The requirements of these planes leave plenty of opportunities for cargo airlines to take these older jets and convert them to freighter aircraft. Most of these planes have been in operation for around twenty years, which means cargo carriers can easily get at least a few more years of operations out of them if they maintain them well.