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Amazon Air lands in India

Quikjet to fly narrowbody cargo jets to support e-commerce fulfillment

A Quikjet 737-800 with the Amazon livery sits in a hangar in Hyderabad, India. (Photo: Amazon)

Amazon has launched a dedicated air cargo network in India in partnership with third-party carrier Quikjet to increase delivery speeds for e-commerce orders to major cities.

Amazon Air (NASDAQ: AMZN) has slowed the pace of growth in flight activity in recent months in recognition of a cooling global economy and online shopping, but the establishment of air logistics operations beyond North America and Europe demonstrates that the retailer is still in expansion mode.

Amazon’s India subsidiary announced Monday that it will utilize capacity on two Boeing 737-800 converted freighters flown by Quikjet Cargo Airlines. The air operation will complement fulfillment, transportation and logistics infrastructure the company has built in India over several years.

Sarah Rhoads, vice president, Amazon Global Air, visited Hyderabad to kick off the new air service, which will deliver shipments to the city, as well as Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai.

“Hyderabad has emerged as a major hub for e-commerce distribution with its strategic geographic location, improved domestic air network and the increasing popularity of e-commerce in the country,” said Akhil Saxena, vice president — customer fulfillment (APAC, MENA and LATAM) and worldwide customer service.

Amazon India has fulfillment centers across 15 states, providing 43 million cubic feet of storage space for 1.1 million sellers in India. There are sortation centers in 19 states, with a processing area of nearly 2.3 million square feet. Amazon’s last-mile delivery network covers the entire country and can reach 97% of postal codes within two days of placing an order, according to the company. 

Quikjet is part of Ireland-based ASL Aviation Holdings, which also owns subsidiaries in Europe that fly 737-800 freighters under the Amazon banner.

Quikjet was forced to reapply last year for its Indian air operator’s certificate to comply with foreign ownership rules, according to aviation site ch-aviation. ASL Aviation had to relinquish majority ownership and control to an Indian citizen. Supply chain entrepreneur Cyrus Guzder now owns 51% of the company, which had been mostly dormant before receiving the converted freighters. ASL decided to restart Quikjet as demand for next-day and same-day air transport increases in India.

Amazon recently announced layoffs of 18,000 workers and has postponed warehouse expansion as part of a series of cost-cutting measures in response to slowing retail sales. But CEO Andy Jassy has indicated the company will prioritize investments in areas of long-term growth.

Amazon Air currently has 112 aircraft in its fleet, all of which are operated by contract cargo airlines. In November, it launched service to Manchester-Boston airport in New Hampshire.

Click here for more FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.


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Eric Kulisch

Eric is the Supply Chain and Air Cargo Editor at FreightWaves. An award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering the logistics sector, Eric spent nearly two years as the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Automotive News, where he focused on regulatory and policy issues surrounding autonomous vehicles, mobility, fuel economy and safety. He has won two regional Gold Medals from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government coverage and news analysis, and was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. As associate editor at American Shipper Magazine for more than a decade, he wrote about trade, freight transportation and supply chains. Eric is based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached for comments and tips at [email protected]