Amazon May Open Air Freight Business


Amazon is said to be in talks to move into the air freight business after a trial involving five leased Boeing 767s flying out of a former air cargo terminal in Wilmington, Ohio. The Seattle Times, quoting mostly unnamed sources, said the company is in the market for 20 more 767s and will likely base them at the Wilmington facility. There are lots of well-maintained 767s available as airlines update to more modern platforms and the drop in oil prices has made the old Boeings’ relative inefficiency less of an issue. Amazon has apparently decided delivery time issues with the current carriers are its biggest issue. “Amazon is pretty fed up with the third-party carriers being a bottleneck to their growth,” Robert W. Baird & Co. analyst Colin Sebastian told the Times. The service could be up and running early in the New Year and may actually become a competitor to FedEx, UPS and the other midnight flyers.

Amazon has been operating a thinly disguised beta test of the operation since September using aircraft operated by Air Transport Services Group. According to the Times’ research, the five aircraft have flown a total of more than 219 missions to Dallas, Tampa, Ontario, Calif. and Allentown, Pa., since Nov. 1 and all those airports are close to Amazon warehouses. It’s not clear whether Amazon intends to run the freight operation as a subsidiary or simply contract with an established carrier. The Wilmington base was formerly home to DHL’s U.S. operations but the business closed in 2009 with the loss of 8,000 jobs. Wilmington Air Park is the former Clinton County Air Force Base and has parallel runways (4/22) of 9,000 feet and 10,701 feet.