Amazon is showing again that it’s in an e-commerce league of its own. The e-commerce giant has announced the creation of its own air cargo delivery network, using 40 Boeing 767s that Amazon will lease from two air transport companies.
The first jet, named “Amazon One,” will debut today at the annual Seafair festival in Amazon’s hometown of Seattle. It’s adorned with “Prime Air” on the fuselage, and the jet’s tail features Amazon’s signature smile logo and a prime number as identification — N1997A, which also references the year Amazon went public.
Why would Amazon start its own air cargo service? Simple: faster deliveries. In tonight’s news release, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, Dave Clark, says “creating an air transportation network is expanding our capacity to ensure great delivery speeds for our Prime members for years to come.”
When rumors of Amazon’s air cargo network first surfaced late last year, the Seattle Times reported that Amazon was frustrated with shipping delays involving United Parcel Service (UPS), especially during the 2013 holiday season, when many Amazon customers received their orders after Christmas. The Times says Amazon had to refund shipping costs and offer affected customers a $20 gift card.
The move to launch its own air cargo service could eventually put Amazon in direct competition with UPS and FedEx, if the company decides to ship inventory sold by other merchants. But for now, Amazon says it’s all about faster and more reliable shipping for its customers. As Clark told GeekWire on Thursday, “once we have all 40 of these planes deployed, there’s the opportunity to create new connections for customers. Inventory that might not have been available next day suddenly could be available next day for customers. But really, it’s all about building core capacity for our Prime service for customers.”