Feb 26, 2021 - Economy & Business

Amazon Air thrives as other airlines struggle under weight of pandemic

Picture of a bright blue plane with the words "Prime Air" written on the side
Photo: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

While most airlines are reeling from the effects of the pandemic, Amazon is on track to double the size of its aircraft fleet by June, a DePaul University analysis found.

Why it matters: Exploding demand for next-day delivery is fueling rapid growth of Amazon Air, the online retailer's air cargo business.

  • Some analysts expect Amazon Air could soon expand into third-party delivery, challenging leading shippers FedEx and UPS, as I reported last year.

Reality check: With 85 planes, Amazon Air is still tiny compared to FedEx's fleet of 679 planes, and UPS' 572 aircraft, notes CNBC.

  • Amazon leases most of its planes, but in January it purchased 11 used Boeing 767-300 jets from Delta and WestJet. 
  • Amazon Air now regularly makes an average of 140 flights daily, and could grow to more than 160 by June 2021, according to DePaul's Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development.
  • The company plans to open a $1.5 billion air hub at Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport later this year.
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