While many companies are struggling to cope with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, airlines are filing for Chapter 11, unemployment is skyrocketing, Amazon continues its growth plans, with the nonchalance of John Wayne walking away from a shoot-out.
While over in France, Amazon again extended its warehouse closures to 18MAY20 (they have been shut since 16APR20, following union disputes regarding health protection against COVID-19, and a subsequent court ruling ordering Amazon to limit deliveries during the pandemic), back across The Pond, it continues to fly high in more ways than one.
Here comes the Sun (Country Air)!
On 07MAY20, Minneapolis-based low-cost carrier Sun Country Air took off on its inauguration flight on behalf of Amazon from Florida to Kentucky, having filed the request on 14APR20 for emergency exemption with the U.S. Department of Transportation, to commence its cooperation deploying 10 of its B737-800s as e-commerce airlifts for Amazon Air. A move that may well have secured its survival in the current corona climate.
Longing for San Bernardino!
On 08MAY20, Amazon announced that it had selected former Air Force base San Bernardino International Airport in California as its western air freight hub. The facility, which is being built from scratch and expected to open next year, will include a 658,500 ft² (c. 200,000 m²) building, two 25,000 ft² (7620 m²) maintenance buildings, circa 2,000 employee parking spaces, and 380 trailer parking spaces. 12 daily flights are planned for the first year, growing to 26 flights a day five years on. All this will require around 1,700 jobs in the first year of operation (these include pilots, aircraft support services, as well as logistics teams), rising to almost 4,000 jobs in the fifth year. Welcome news at a time when the USA sees the greatest rise in unemployment in years, jumping from 3.5% in FEB20 to 14.7% in early MAY20.
Sarah Rhoads, Amazon Global Air’s Vice President, stated: “The Regional Air Hub is being built from the ground up to fit Amazon Air’s operational needs, including the use of solar power and electric ground support equipment. We look forward to opening the facility in 2021.”
Speaking on behalf of SBD International Airport, its Executive Director, Michael Burrows, said: “We are excited to realize a long-term goal of offering air cargo operations at our airport, just as Norton Air Force Base did at this location for decades. We are pleased to invite Amazon Air to initiate cargo operations alongside other partners at our new cargo facility to benefit local residents and contribute to the region’s job growth and economic recovery.”
Not everyone is that excited about the prospect, however, as State Attorney General Xavier Becerra and local environmental groups raised pollution and health concerns earlier this year already.
Attorney Adrian Martinez, from San Francisco-based law firm Earthjustice, representing the environmental groups, criticized: “Amazon comes out proudly touting its involvement at this airport at a time when the air has been incredibly dirty in San Bernardino, and this is a project that’ll add air pollution to the community surrounding the airport. It’s odd timing to say the least.”
Andrea Vidaurre, working as policy analyst for the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, told The San Bernardino Sun “Now that it’s confirmed that [the tenant] is Amazon, it tells the community a lot about what’s going on. It’s not just a small business, it’s not just a small start-up. It’s Amazon, one of the richest companies in the world right now, owned by a man making incredible profits during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through his experience in the 14 warehouses in our region, we know what we’re getting when Amazon comes in: insecure job stability, a bunch of pollution he holds no responsibility over and unhealthy practices inside warehouses that put people at risk.”
And thus, the story come full circle, reminiscent of the current warehouse closures in France…
We always welcome your comments to our articles. However, we can only publish them when the sender name is authentic.