As Amazon’s business soars during the coronavirus shutdown, Amazon Air said it will expand its cargo jet fleet by adding a dozen more Boeing 767 freighter aircraft by the end of next  year.

The online retail giant said Wednesday it will lease the planes — all used 767-300s that have been converted from passenger to cargo aircraft — from airfreight operator Air Transport Services Group (ATSG), which already supplies most of Amazon Air’s 767s.

One of the new aircraft joined Amazon’s air cargo operations last month, with the remaining 11 to be delivered next year. That will swell Amazon Air’s fleet from 70 jets by the end of this year to more than 80 cargo aircraft next year, mostly the mid-size widebody 767s along with some smaller 737s.

Sarah Rhoads, vice president of Amazon Global Air, said the jet fleet “is critical to ensuring fast delivery for our customers — both in the current environment we are facing, and beyond.”

“During a time when so many of our customers rely on us to get what they need without leaving their homes, expanding our dedicated air network ensures we have the capacity,” she added in a statement.

Amazon has hired 175,000 temporary workers since March to cope with the surge of business as people shut in their homes greatly increased their use of its delivery service. Late last month, Amazon said it will offer permanent jobs to 125,000 of those new hires.


In the peak Christmas season in 2015, Amazon started a trial run of its own air cargo operation with just five 767s. It quickly expanded the following year with deals to lease 20 of the same jets from ATSG and then 20 more from Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings.

Determined not to rely on FedEx and UPS for deliveries, Amazon has since then steadily expanded its air cargo fleet along with its broader delivery logistics capabilities.

And Amazon supplements its jet fleet with extensive investments in package handling operations at a series of regional hub airports.

Amazon will open a new regional hub at Lakeland Linder International Airport in Florida later this summer and at San Bernardino International Airport in California next year, along with the central Amazon Air Hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 2021.

In addition, Amazon is opening smaller last-mile package delivery facilities at other airports. Last month it opened such facilities at airports in Austin, Texas, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.