Sun Country Airlines scoops 10 aircraft deal with Amazon

By Damian Brett

Amazon Air B737-800F

E-commerce giant Amazon has hired Sun Country Airlines to deliver its packages in Amazon Air-branded aircraft – a huge expansion for the Minnesota-based, ultra-low cost carrier – and it promises to represent up to 20% of the airline’s business.

According to sister title FlightGlobal, the six-year deal is a “first-of-its-kind for a scheduled service passenger airline”, Sun Country said yesterday, adding that it is scheduled to launch in the second quarter of 2020.

The agreement between the Seattle-based e-commerce company and the airline states that Amazon will sublease ten Boeing 737-800 cargo aircraft to Sun Country, which will then operate the planes on behalf of Amazon under its FAA air carrier certificate. This will take Sun County’s fleet to 39 737s, it said.

At the Paris Airshow, aircraft lessor GECAS and Amazon announced a deal to lease an additional fifteen Boeing 737-800 cargo aircraft, in addition to the five Boeing 737-800’s already leased from the company.

At the time, it was not clear which company would fly the aircraft on behalf of Amazon.

By 2021, the e-commerce company’s freighter fleet will be made up of 70 aircraft.

To staff the aircraft, Sun Country will hire up to 20% more pilots in 2020, as well as additional maintenance and operations staff.

“Our partnership with Amazon presents a unique opportunity to significantly grow our airline,” said Sun Country Airlines chief executive Jude Bricker. “While the past two years have been focused on scheduled service growth, this exciting opportunity gives us a chance to diversify even further.”

“We’re thrilled to partner with Sun Country as they look to grow their cargo operations,” Sarah Rhoads, vice president at Amazon Global Air added. “As we continue to grow our air cargo fleet on behalf of our customers to ensure fast, free delivery, we look forward to the ongoing partnership with Sun Country.”

The Amazon Air fleet is currently operated by lessors ATSG and Atlas Air. However, the e-commerce firm has expressed some concerns about a protracted pilot contract dispute with Atlas Air, suggesting it could move some aircraft to another operator.

Following this, in September, Amazon switched two of its freighters from Atlas to ATSG, although the lessor said this was for network reasons.

Sun Country’s Bricker, who has been in the chief executive role for more than two years, has transformed and expanded the discount carrier by overhauling its fare structure, adding ancillary fees, embarking on fleet expansion, and cost cutting.

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