Amazon is to launch its first ever branded cargo plane on Friday, one of a fleet of 40 to be rolled out as the e-commerce giant looks to take more control of its delivery network.
The company has already begun to take control of its air deliveries, leasing 10 dedicated planes since 2015, but this is the first to be branded in Amazon colours.
The plane, named Amazon One, was unveiled to press behind closed hangar doors on Thursday and will be officially showcased on Friday with a flyover at the Seafair Air Show in Seattle, the tech company’s hometown.
“Creating an air transportation network is expanding our capacity to ensure great delivery speeds for our Prime members for years to come,” said Dave Clark, senior vice president of worldwide operations.
“I cannot imagine a better way to celebrate the inaugural flight than in our hometown at Seafair alongside Amazon employees and Seattle residents.”
Amazon has had issues with the reliability of air freight services. In 2013, it offered refunds to customers who received Christmas orders late after bad weather and an increase in online shopping caused delays for its suppliers UPS and FedEx. Amazon did not say how this would affect its relationship with the two companies.
Analysts say it makes sense for Amazon to use an air fleet it controls as another way to get its products to online shoppers drawn to fast delivery.
“They're such a big online retailer,” said Satish Jindel, president of shipping consultant ShipMatrix. “There's so much volume that if you have to add transportation for yourself, why would you pay a retail price when you can get wholesale? It makes sense.”
The Boeing 767 plane is emblazoned with the company name on its underside, “Prime Air” on its sides and the Amazon smile logo on its tail.
The company, which has seen its share price rise by more than 50 per cent since its February low-point, has launched several initiatives in an attempt to speed up deliveries.
In July it launched an Uber-style mobile app that allows individuals to deliver for Amazon in the UK. The firm launched its one-hour delivery service, Amazon Prime Now, in London in 2015. The company has also taken control of its own network of 4,000 lorries to increase haulage capacity.
Founder Jeff Bezos said his ultimate aim was to use drones to deliver packages within 30 minutes for short trips. The plan took a step towards becoming reality in July when the Government allowed Amazon to test the unmanned aircraft in UK airspace.
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