amazon.com inc.’s air cargo division has opened its first regional air hub in Europe and leased two Boeing 737-800 aircraft to service it, saying Thursday that the new operation expands its capacity to continue serving customers in Germany and throughout Europe.
The Seattle-based e-commerce giant launched the facility at Leipzig/Halle Airport in in Schkeuditz, Germany, located about 115 miles southwest of Berlin. With freight volumes of more than 1.3 million tons per year, Leipzig/Halle is Germany’s second-largest cargo airport and the fifth busiest air cargo operation in all of Europe. The facility also handled 2.6 million passengers in 2019.
The move comes as Amazon has been rapidly building up its internal air cargo capabilities, naming California’s San Bernardino International Airport as its western air freight hub in May, adding 12 new cargo aircraft to boost its total fleet over 80 planes in June, and launching flights to Florida’s Lakeland Linder International Airport in July.
That focus on growth has pushed the mega-retailer’s in-house parcel delivery arm to swell to roughly the same size as FedEx Corp. in the U.S. by the end of 2020 and as big as UPS Inc. by 2022, as the company edges closer to launching third-party delivery service in the U.S., experts say.
The new German location is a 215,000-square foot facility supporting more than 200 jobs, and has already begun operations with two daily flights. According to Amazon, the site creates an additional connection within its fulfillment network in Europe, bringing greater selection and more flexible delivery options at a lower price to Prime members. It also allows the company to better serve customers during the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, when people are relying on having the items they need delivered directly to their doorsteps, the company said.