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Amazon expands air fleet, narrowing gap with UPS and FedEx

AMERICAN e-commerce giant Amazon has rapidly increased its air cargo business in recent months while the airline industry may be reeling from the coronavirus pandemic

20 September 2020 - 19:00

AMERICAN e-commerce giant Amazon has rapidly increased its air cargo business in recent months while the airline industry may be reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.

Between May and July, Amazon added nine planes to its Amazon Air fleet, 'the most it has added over a three-month span since its inception,' said the report issued recently by DePaul University's Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development.



'Amazon Air expanded rapidly during summer 2020, a period otherwise marked by sharp year-over-year declines in air-cargo traffic,' the report states.



Amazon Air now includes about 70 planes and the fleet is expected to grow to more than 80 by 2021, Amazon said in June. That's up from the 50 planes it counted in February 2019, reports CNBC.



Amazon's air fleet, launched in 2016, is a critical part of its push to provide one- and two-day delivery. The company still relies on outside carriers for a significant share of its deliveries, but it has gradually moved more of its logistics operations in-house, allowing it to better control costs and delivery speeds. Analysts believe Amazon's air fleet, combined with its massive network of airplanes, truck trailers and vans, could one day position it to rival UPS and FedEx.



The coronavirus pandemic has generated even more pressure on Amazon to ensure fast delivery, as it saw a surge in online orders from stuck-at-home shoppers who turned to the company for essential goods and groceries, along with other products like office supplies and electronics.



While its fleet has grown since May, Amazon Air still remains smaller than its rivals, including FedEx, which operates 463 planes, UPS' fleet of 275 planes and DHL's 77 planes, DePaul researchers said in a separate report published in May.


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