Amazon launches Prime Air
On Friday at Seattle’s SeaFair Air Show, Amazon.com launched its first-ever, branded cargo plane, the Amazon One.
Painted with “Prime Air” on its fuselage, the Boeing 767-300 is operated by Atlas Air.
“Creating an air transportation network is expanding our capacity to ensure great delivery speeds for our Prime members for years to come,” said Dave Clark, Amazon’s SVP of worldwide operations, in a statement. “I cannot imagine a better way to celebrate the inaugural flight than in our hometown at Seafair alongside Amazon employees and Seattle residents.”
The airplane is one of 40 that Amazon has agreed to lease through air cargo partners Atlas Air and ATSG in a development first announced in May. It currently has dedicated airplanes flying daily out of its air hub in Wilmington, OH. The rest of the cargo jets are expected to be flying within two years.
Amazon has said the cargo planes are designed to supplement and not replace FedEx, UPS and other third-party carriers it has long used, but they’ve fueled speculation that the e-tailer may eventually build out a full-fledged transportation network itself to reduce fulfillment costs, speed deliveries and gain greater control over the last mile.
With many other investments in its logistical infrastructure and cheap to free shipping to support its Prime subscription service, Amazon’s shipping costs continue to rise faster than sales. In its second quarter, shipping costs rose 44 percent versus 31 percent revenue growth.
In its statement, Amazon noted that it has launched several initiatives in the last year “to ensure great delivery speeds and supply chain capacity for its customers.” These include Amazon Flex, a mobile app that allows individuals to sign-up, be vetted and begin delivering for Amazon. It also introduced a network of 4,000 trailers and has invested in advanced robotics and other technology to speed packing and sorting at its facilities.
Expanding its logistics reach is also working as a branding vehicle for Prime. Along with the Prime-Air branded plane, the 4,000 tractor-trailers are all branded with Amazon Prime in large letters. The new jet’s tail also sports Amazon’s smile logo.
- Amazon Takes Flight: Company’s First Air Cargo Plane to Fly in Seattle’s Annual Seafair Air Show Parade – Amazon.com/Business Wire
- Amazon Reveals ‘Prime Air’ Cargo Jet – The Wall Street Journal (sub. required)
- First branded ‘Prime Air’ jet in Amazon’s fleet to fly at Seafair – The Seattle Times (tiered sub.)
- Amazon launches branded Prime Air cargo delivery fleet – Retail Dive
- Amazon launches Prime Air, its own dedicated cargo planes to speed delivery – TechCrunch
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think introducing Prime Air branded planes says about Amazon’s ambitions? Do you see a branding benefit for Amazon from its own internal delivery network?