Amazon’s delivery game looks to be outpacing the competition.
On Tuesday, Amazon announced plans to build an “air hub” in Kentucky to act as home base to its fleet of Prime Air cargo planes, adding more than 2,000 jobs to an area that already employs more than 10,000 in 11 fulfillment centers.
Last year, Amazon leased 40 cargo airplanes from two carriers. Sixteen of these planes are in service so far. The Amazon Prime Air Hub will be at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in Hebron, Kentucky, where packages with be sorted, loaded and unloaded.
Amazon senior vice president of worldwide operations Dave Clark said the location was chosen in part because of its “great connectivity to our nearby fulfillment locations.”
On the fulfillment side, the e-commerce behemoth has invested in an Uber-like package delivery program called Amazon Flex, in addition to 4,000 trucks and its cargo planes, which deliver from 149 fulfillment centers and 20 sortation centers.
In December, company chief executive officer Jeff Bezos tweeted to announce that Amazon had completed its first drone delivery on Dec. 7. Amazon’s Prime Air is being tested to deliver packages that are up to 5 pounds in 30 minutes or less in the United Kingdom.
The first phase of testing includes only two customers with plans to expand this pilot to “dozens” of customers living within “several miles” of its U.K. facility in the next few months, before expanding to “hundreds more.”
Earlier this month, Amazon said it would add 100,000 full-time jobs in the U.S. over the next 18 months. The company added more than 150,000 U.S. jobs in the past five years, bringing its domestic workforce to 180,000.
Also this week, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced it would be scrapping its $49 SuperPass membership, which offered customers free two-day shipping and which was a competition to Amazon’s $99 Prime membership, which comes with a range of other benefits. Instead, Wal-Mart is offering free, two-day shipping to all orders that are more than $35.
Wal-Mart said it would create 34,000 U.S. jobs this year, generated in party by the construction of new Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores and the remodeling and improvement of existing U.S. units.