Amazon has significantly increased its operations at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG). The e-commerce giant has opened an 800,000-square-foot sortation facility there, turning CVG into the central hub for Amazon Air’s US cargo network.
“The Amazon Air Hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport will make Kentucky the undisputed national leader in air cargo,” said Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear.
Cincinnati Airport Amazon facility capable of handling 200 flights a day
In addition to creating thousands of new jobs around Cincinnati, Amazon says the new facility at CVG will speed up parcel delivery around the United States.
According to a CNBC report, Amazon’s Cincinnati Airport hub is designed to have the capacity for 100 Amazon-branded planes and handle an estimated 200 flights per day. It gives Amazon ample scope to grow. According to planespotters.net, Amazon is currently flying 70 aircraft.
Amazon has a presence at over 40 airports across the United States, but Cincinnati’s facility will be the biggest and critical to Amazon’s operations. It’s good news for CVG. In 2019, the busy airport handled 1,248,779 tonnes of cargo. In 2020, that increased to 1,434,132 tonnes.
“CVG is proud to be home to Amazon Air’s primary US air cargo hub,” said the airport’s CEO, Candace McGraw. “We’ve worked hard to ensure our airport is a great place to do business, and we couldn’t be more pleased to partner with Amazon on the transformational impact this hub is having.”
In addition to Amazon, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport hosts planes from eight other cargo airlines. Keeping Amazon’s new facility company is the DHL Express
Global Superhub at the airport. FedEx also has a big presence at the airport. In 2020, CVG was the seventh-largest cargo airport in the United States. With Amazon on the scene, the airport will now move up the rankings ladder.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.
Amazon’s interesting move into the airline business
Many have watched Amazon’s move into the air cargo space with interest. In the space of six years, Amazon has gone from flying a handful of planes to 70. They plan to have 85 in the air by the end of 2022.
Amazon mostly leases aircraft. It also has external operators fly them. In essence, Amazon Air’s “fleet” is little more than an expensive branding exercise. But that is changing. Earlier this year, Amazon announced its first-ever purchase of aircraft – 11 Boeing 767-300s.
“Our goal is to continue delivering for customers across the U.S. in the way that they expect from Amazon, and purchasing our own aircraft is a natural next step toward that goal,” said Amazon’s Sarah Rhoads at the time. The 11 Boeings aren’t new. They are former WestJet and Delta aircraft.
“Having a mix of both leased and owned aircraft in our growing fleet allows us to better manage our operations, which in turn helps us to keep pace in meeting our customer promises.”
The Boeings are undergoing conversion to freighters. All will be delivering parcels by the end of 2022. Amazon will continue to use third-party carriers to operate the planes.
Amazon sticks with third party operators to fly its planes
Amazon’s use of third-party operators to fly Amazon’s planes, whether owned or leased, is a strategy that works for the business. Rhoads, who is Vice President of Amazon Global Air, told CNBC this week Amazon was happy with that model and the current third-party operators. With Amazon growing fast, she sees little reason to tinker with a delivery formula that works.
Meanwhile, with the new facility at CVG poised to be the linchpin of Amazon’s air operations in the United States, locals will have to get used to the sight of Amazon Air Boeings arriving and departing at a rapid clip.