Amazon Buys Stake In Air Freight Leaser

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Amazon has upped the ante in its foray into the air freight business, announcing Friday that it's taken a small ownership stake in the company providing 20 Boeing 767 cargo airplanes for its new service. As we reported in December, Amazon did a trial run with five of Air Transport Services Group's aircraft, using DHL's former hub in Wilmington, Ohio, and apparently the experiment was a success. It announced the 20-aircraft lease two weeks ago and revealed that it now also has a 9.99 percent stake in ATSG. The aircraft will only be used for U.S. delivery and will operate from Wilmington. 

Exactly which airports will receive the freight flights is unclear but during the hard-to-hide beta test the five 767s flew a total of 219 missions to Dallas, Tampa, Ontario, Calif. and Allentown, Pa., in November and December of 2015. Amazon has warehouses near all those airports. With the investment in the aircraft leaser, Amazon appears serious about getting into the freight business and it can increase its stake in ATSG under the leasing agreement to 19.9 percent at $9.73 a share. Since the news about Amazon, ATSG's shares have surged to $14.56.

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