CONFIRMED: Amazon Launching Its Own Airline, Prime Air

In December I wrote about the credible rumor that would start its own cargo airline with word that they planed to lease 20 Boeing 767s.

Frustrated by delays at third party delivery companies like UPS, they figured they could do it better themselves.

In fact, the plan is bigger than first reported. They intend to lease 40 planes in the next two years.

Here’s a timelapse of the repainting of the first Amazon Prime Air Boeing 767-300 operated by Atlas Air and named Amazon One:

Planes will come in equal numbers from both Atlas Air and also Air Transport Services Group which flew test flights between its Wilmington, Ohio cargo base and Amazon warehouses last fall.

Prime Air of course was supposed to be Amazon’s drone delivery system.

While initially intended to support their own deliveries, this could eventually put Amazon in direct competition with other commercial air shipping companies like UPS and FedEx. Like Amazon servers this is flex capacity that they may need at peak holiday shipping times, but once up and running might otherwise be underutilized the rest of the year. That gives them the opportunity to build out the business at very low marginal cost.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Please include passengers and an actual-mileage Prime Flyer club. I will then buy everything from Amazon.

  2. Bezos better hope he doesn’t alienate FedEx and UPS. He needs them more than he needs his own airline

  3. @johnb – one could argue that FedEx and UPS need Amazon too…imagine the lost revenue if they lose Amazon business completely. I doubt FedEx and UPS get too alienated by this…

  4. I highly doubt that Amazon will completely stop using either of the big two. They have an infrastructure that has taken years and years to evolve, they have the systems, training etc. Not going to happen anytime soon. I have a neighbor that is a captain for big brown and they have known about this for a long time. Augmentation sure that’s the extend.

  5. @ghost

    And what makes you think captain knows anything of substance? Airlines are full of rumors, and management really doesn’t share much with front line employees.

  6. Here in Seattle, Blue Angels are in town doing practice runs for our weekend festival, Seafair.
    Before Blue Angels flew today, Prime Air flew several low passes over floating bridge for observers waiting to see the Blue Angels . Lots of jets in the air today. “Burners on”!

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