Amazon agreed to lease ten additional freighter-converted 767-300Fs from Air Transport Services Group (ATSG) over the next two years to support the growth of its dedicated freighter network, the e-commerce giant announced today.
The aircraft will be leased by ATSG’s leasing subsidiary, Cargo Aircraft Management (CAM), and operated on Amazon’s behalf by an ATSG-affiliate carrier in an arrangement similar to the 20-aircraft deal between Amazon and ATSG inked in 2016.
Growth of the Amazon Air fleet was not unexpected. Last month, Air Transport Services Group (ATSG) and Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings each met their respective contractual obligations to dry-lease twenty freighter-converted 767Fs to Amazon and operate them on a CMI basis for the e-commerce giant. Industry insiders and financial analysts figured it was only a matter of time before Amazon sought to grow the operation beyond forty freighters.
Last week, analysis by Cargo Facts suggested that more than 40 freighters were already operating on Amazon’s behalf.
The ten-aircraft deal comes just one day after ATSG announced CAM had secured rights to twenty 767-300ERs slated to come out of passenger service with American Airlines over the next three years. As the aircraft are released by American Airlines, CAM will have them converted to freighter configuration, and upon redelivery, will lease them to other operators. At least some of the ex-American Airlines feedstock could end up on lease to ATSG’s own carriers, operating on behalf of customers like Amazon.
In its 3Q earnings call last month, ATSG said it expected to place between eight and ten 767-300Fs in service during 2019. At least five feedstock units slated for conversion next year had already been acquired or secured by ATSG separately from the batch of aircraft coming out of the American Airlines fleet. The company today confirmed to Cargo Facts that it already has conversion slots for most of its near-term conversions, but did not identify a conversion house.
While ATSG is clearly on track to lease ten additional freighter-converted 767-300Fs to Amazon over the next two years, the question remains, will fifty freighters be enough for the Amazon Air operation? We note that Amazon’s 2016 agreements with ATSG and Atlas were announced within two months of one another – might history repeat itself? Amazon has given no indication that it intends to lease additional aircraft, nor does Atlas have a visible portfolio of 767 feedstock. But in an industry known for speed, such conditions could change rapidly.
Those interested in learning more about e-commerce and its disruptive impact on air freight are invited to join us at Cargo Facts EMEA 4-6 February 2019 at The Westin Grand Frankfurt. To register or for more information, visit www.cargofactsemea.com