Amazon’s homegrown shipping infrastructure is mounting, with air cargo operations emerging in several new cities in the United States and abroad.
A month after Motherboard first reported that Amazon had begun operating a small air cargo operation out of Wilmington, Ohio, the company has expanded its flights to at least one more airport in the United States, bringing its domestic trial project to six cities total. It has also reportedly been testing five weekly flights to and from fulfillment centers in the United Kingdom, chartering a Boeing 737 aircraft from German logistics company DB Schenker.
An employee at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport told to Motherboard a warehouse there was leased approximately two months ago and, starting last week, Amazon packages were seen being unloaded from ATI planes. There are two Amazon fulfillment centers within 20 miles of DFW, in Denton County.
An employee at the Wilmington Air Park also told Motherboard the packages being sorted there are emblazoned with “Amazon” logos. A flight has also apparently been added out of Wilmington to Ontario, Canada. These developments came as the Seattle Times reported online retail giant was in talks to lease 20 Boeing 767 jets to expand its air cargo delivery. Earlier in December, Amazon bought thousands of its own trailers to transport goods on the ground.
These expansions come as the holiday season winds down, and the biggest question remaining is whether Amazon aims to compete head-on with UPS or simply supplement its existing partnerships during peak seasons.
Brandon Fried, executive director at the air freight forwarding advocacy group Airforwarders Association, said it is very possible Amazon is just using the additional muscle to balance warehouses around the US. He added that what the company does in the post-holiday months will be very indicative of its broader plans.
“A lot of companies fly these planes during the holiday times––what is going to happen afterwards?” he said. “If a few weeks after christmas they are still flying those planes that is a big indicator things are changing permanently. It’s going to be a very interesting year.”
Amazon did not respond to requests for comment on these developments, but previously told Motherboard, “We’ve long utilized air capacity through a variety of great partners to transport packages and we expect that to continue.”