A Boeing 767-300 (registered N503AZ) appeared in the Federal Aviation Administration’s registry under Amazon’s name on August 31, 2020.
After operating leased wide-bodies for almost five years now, the e-commerce giant finally owns an aircraft of its own. A 29-year-old Boeing 767-338(ER) officially became the first jet in Amazon’s fleet.
The N503AZ, then-named the City of Port Macquarie, was first delivered to Qantas back in 1991. Eleven years later, the Australian flag carrier leased the aircraft to Australian Airlines for four years, after which the aircraft returned to its owner and was stored away in 2014. Westjet was the last airline that operated the N503AZ before Amazon bought it. The aircraft currently resides in Tel Aviv, Israel, where it will likely be converted into an Amazon Air freighter.
On top of its new aircraft, the company has also reserved four additional registration numbers 521AZ, 563AZ, 569AZ and 571AZ, most likely looking to expand its fleet further.
The aircraft registrations came in the wake of Q2 financial results after the company announced $5.2 billion in net income, a 50% increase from the same quarter of 2019. Its sales have reportedly ramped by 40% in comparison to last year as well. And while many businesses were impacted negatively by COVID-19, Amazon’s demand keeps growing due to social distancing and restrictions that people are forced to undergo amid the crisis.
At the same time, many airlines have reported increased revenues from their air freight operations due to the peculiar situation cargo found itself in after the pandemic. E-commerce companies transported much of their shipments before COVID-19 in ‘belly capacity’ via passenger planes. When air traffic dropped by 90% in April 2020, prices for air freight increased significantly. This also prompted airlines like British Airways or Korean Air to convert their passenger aircraft into air freighters.
At the end of August 2020, the air cargo industry has experienced a four-month consecutive growth in demand, despite the fact that the end of summer is considered a quiet time for air freight. Simultaneously, air passenger traffic is not expected to recover until 2024. With cargo demand on the rise, the time seems to be most favorable for Amazon to start amassing its own cargo fleet.