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Amazon Says Aloha to Hawaiian Airlines

Amazon Air’s Kentucky hub already increasingly mirrors that of the e-commerce company’s closest logistics competitors. A new deal with Hawaiian Airlines to add more capacity to its air network solidifies that and its long-term delivery ambitions. 

The e-commerce company is in the process of converting 10 Airbus A330-300 planes from passenger to cargo aircraft to be added to its growing transportation network. The planes are being leased by Altavair, an aircraft leasing company, and will be operated by Hawaiian Airlines once the conversions are complete and the planes are added to the Amazon Air network late next year. Amazon will also take as much as a 15 percent stake in Hawaiian Airlines, which offers about 130 daily flights within Hawaii, as part of the deal. 

Hawaiian Airlines president and CEO Peter Ingram hailed the deal as a new revenue stream for the business. 

“This relationship provides a catalyst to grow our business and the unique opportunity to diversify our revenue sources while capitalizing on our established strengths,” Ingram said in a statement. 

This latest deal for Amazon adds capacity to a network Amazon Global Air vice president Sarah Rhoads said already offers “the structure we need to be nimble when the expected and unexpected” happens. 

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“These A330s will not only be the first of their kind in our fleet, but they’ll also be the newest, largest aircraft for Amazon Air, allowing us to deliver more customer packages with each flight,” Rhoads said in a post on the news. 

Rhoads added some of the newer planes will replace older aircraft in the network. 

Amazon Air has scaled quickly since the first flight of what was called Amazon One in 2016. 

“Fast forward to 2022, we’re still emerging from a global pandemic and evolving our network to continue to meet customer demand,” Rhoads said. 

The executive said the company added more aircraft to its Amazon Air network over the past two years, while also opening up new hubs. Domestically, the major debut in August 2021 was the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport hub, an 800,000-square-foot location that came at a cost of about $1.5 billion. 

Domestically, the company this year also added airports in El Paso, Texas; Las Vegas; and Lihue, Hawaii. The moves ultimately bring a larger swath of consumers closer to one of the company’s hubs. 

Amazon Air also expanded during the past couple years with the opening of Leipzig/Halle Airport in  Germany.

It’s the Cincinnati/Kentucky hub that appears to be growing in importance to the network, with the facility more than doubling the number of daily flights it sees, according to DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute, which studies Amazon Air.  

The latest Chaddick report, released in September, found a 71 percent increase in daily flights to nearly 44 out of Cincinnati/Kentucky when compared to its last study of Amazon Air released in March. Factoring in planes that do not bear the Amazon Air logo, but are still delivering for the e-commerce company, the daily flight total is roughly 60, the report said. 

The Kentucky hub and the next closest facility at Wilmington Air Park are “increasingly the nerve center of Amazon Air’s domestic operation,” Chaddick researchers said. Flights out of the two hubs combined increased to 21 percent from 14 percent in the six months to September, according to the report.   

Researchers said daily flights across Amazon Air’s global network, including branded and partner aircraft, totaled a little over 222 for the September reporting period.