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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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