Amazon is expanding its air cargo network with the addition of 15 Boeing 737-800s on lease from GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) as it works to speed up Prime deliveries for customers. The e-commerce giant already leased 5 of the same aircraft from GECAS for its Amazon Air network, which launched in 2016 as a way for Amazon to take more control over its shipping and fulfillment services.
Touting algorithms and its capacity and route planning software, Amazon said its air cargo network transports "hundreds of thousands" of packages each day. By 2021 the company expects to have significantly more planes in the air as it opens its main air cargo hub in Northern Kentucky.
"These new aircraft create additional capacity for Amazon Air, building on the investment in our Prime Free One-Day program," said Dave Clark, SVP of worldwide operations at Amazon. "By 2021, Amazon Air will have a portfolio of 70 aircraft flying in our dedicated air network."
Shipping is a massive expense for Amazon, and that cost has fueled the company's efforts to build out its own delivery network and develop new shipping methods, including robots, autonomous drones, and its Prime-branded cargo plane fleet.
Amazon historically has relied on a variety of carriers -- including UPS, FedEx and USPS, as well as its own infrastructure -- for package delivery and last-mile logistics. Coincidentally, FedEx earlier this month said that it was ending its Express air shipping contract with Amazon to focus on the broader e-commerce space.