Amazon runs trial air operation in Europe

Amazon has been operating secret flights carrying thousands of packages in and out of the UK for the past six weeks as it trials setting up its own air freight business, according to UK  newspaper, The Evening Standard.

The report claims that since mid-November the online retail giant has chartered a Boeing 737 to fly between Poland, the UK and Germany. 

The plane has made five trips a week, flying from Katowice in Poland to Luton, East Midlands or Doncaster airports and then back to Poland via Kassel in Germany.

The round trips link several of Amazon’s biggest fulfilment centres in Europe.

Katowice airport is near its two giant warehouses in Wroclaw, while Kassel is the closest airport to Amazon’s two fulfilment centres in Bad Hersfeld, Germany.

Amazon’s biggest fulfilment centres in the UK are in Dunfermline, in Scotland and Swansea, in Wales and the closest to London are Milton Keynes and Hemel Hempstead. 

Amazon has chartered the plane from German logistics firm DB Schenker and is understood to be looking at extending the trials with further plane charters and taking in centres in Spain and Italy,the report added.

The first trials in the UK were to Luton airport and then  East Midlands and Doncaster.

Before Christmas, media reports claimed Amazon was negotiating to lease 20 B767, the centrepiece of plans to build out its own cargo operations to avoid delays from carriers such as United Parcel Service, which have struggled to keep up with the rapid growth of e-commerce.

Moving into air freight would be a logical step following on from Amazon’s build-up this year of its own fleet of delivery vans and couriers in the UK, The Evening Standard report added.

It has moved to secure more of its own distribution network after one of its carriers, CityLink, went bust last Christmas. 

Asked about the aircraft charter in Europe, an Amazon spokesman told the newspaper: “Within our European fulfilment network, we use various carriers with a range of transport methods for distributing and delivering items. This includes air.”

Image: Ken Wolter /


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