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Amazon Air’s big US hub opens for business

Airport sortation center near Cincinnati will facilitate more centralized reach across North America

Amazon Airs fleet includes many Boeing 767 freighters, like this one at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. (Photo: Amazon)

Amazon Air announced Wednesday it has begun operations at its new, primary package hub at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport a few weeks ahead of schedule. The U.S. hub will enable the online retailer to further speed up line haul transportation and help meet one-day delivery commitments for Prime members.

An 800,000-square-foot sortation facility will be able to process millions of e-commerce packages each week. There are six other buildings, a large new ramp for aircraft parking, and a multistory vehicle garage on the 600-acre campus. Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) said the $1.5 billion facility, which took four years of planning and construction, will create 2,000 jobs.

The package center is equipped with robotic arms and mobile drive units that transport packages across the building, as well as miles of interconnected conveyors with interspersed workstations. Amazon said it will build a solar rooftop within the next year, with all energy generated feeding into the local electrical grid. 

Since its inception five years ago, Amazon Air has expanded to more than 40 locations and launched a European air hub in 2020 at Germany’s Leipzig/Halle Airport. It operates more than 140 flights per day, according to analysis by Susquehanna Financial Group, and has more than 70 aircraft in its fleet, all operated by outside contractors.

Amazon has operated aircraft from Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) for years, but the new sort hub and ramp space will increase flight activity there. Analysts at DePaul University estimate the new hub will support 50 flights per day by year’s end, up from 28 daily flights before the expansion. It will have capacity to handle up to 200 flights per day when fully built out.

Amazon Air’s flight network at CVG already allows for the rapid shipment of packages to locations within a few hours’ truck drive of most of the U.S. population, and the new hub will allow the company to fill any gaps in coverage. 

The growing density of flight operations and warehouses for other retailers and logistics providers in the area gives Amazon the potential opportunity to provide expedited logistics services for transactions not made on Amazon’s website. 

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 and a Silver Medal from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government and trade coverage, and news analysis. He was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He won Environmental Journalist of the Year from the Seahorse Freight Association in 2014 and was the group's 2013 Supply Chain Journalist of the Year. In December 2022, Eric was voted runner up for Air Cargo Journalist by the Seahorse Freight Association. As associate editor at American Shipper Magazine for more than a decade, he wrote about trade, freight transportation and supply chains. He has appeared on Marketplace, ABC News and National Public Radio to talk about logistics issues in the news. Eric is based in Vancouver, Washington. He can be reached for comments and tips at [email protected]