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Amazon to Use Airbus Cargo Planes for First Time


Inc. said it is hiring

Hawaiian Air

HA -0.71%

lines to fly its packages on 10 rented

Airbus SE

EADSY 0.29%

jets around the U.S., reducing its reliance on

Boeing Co.

BA 0.53%


The e-commerce giant has a fleet of more than 110 aircraft, mainly Boeing 767s that used to carry passengers but now move goods, and outsources the flying to other airlines.

The first Airbus A330s are due to arrive in late 2023, with the planes replacing Boeing 767s over the following 18 months.

Amazon outsources all of its flying and rents most of its planes, with its first Airbus jets leased from Altavair LP, a specialist aviation firm. The aircraft are being converted from passenger flying to only carry freight.

Hawaiian was one of six U.S. bidders for the contract, said

Sarah Rhoads,

vice president of Amazon Global Air, the company’s aviation arm.

Hawaiian operates a dozen Airbus A330s on passenger flights. The unit of Hawaiian Holdings Inc. is the largest U.S. passenger carrier to fly on Amazon’s behalf, with most of the work being carried out by cargo specialists such as

Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings Inc.


Air Transport Services Group Inc.

Amazon started hiring airlines in 2015 to fly its parcels around the U.S. and has since expanded with an outsourced European business. Ms. Rhoads declined to comment on when Amazon might use its buying power to make aircraft orders of its own, and even set up its own airline.

“Right now, we’re sitting exactly where we need to sit,” she said.

Air cargo boomed during the pandemic, but growth rates have slowed and pricing has weakened. Ms. Rhoads said Amazon hadn’t changed its plans for capacity even as rivals such as FedEx Corp. parked airplanes.

Amazon chose the 10 Airbus A330s mainly because they were more available for conversion to all-cargo planes from passenger use than the Boeing 767 planes that make up the bulk of its fleet, said Ms. Rhoads.

While the Airbus jets are larger than the 767, they wouldn’t be used to provide services for other customers, said Ms. Rhoads. Amazon currently flies its own parcels and some for the U.S. Postal Service.

The line between Amazon and Walmart is becoming increasingly blurred, as the two companies seek to maintain their slice of the estimated $5 trillion retail market while chipping away at the other’s share, often by borrowing the other’s ideas. Photos: Amazon/Walmart

Write to Doug Cameron at [email protected]

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