In the USA it has long been a fact: There, Amazon Air, better known as Prime Air, operates out of over 20 gateways, with Cincinnati being the package carrier’s principal hub. The multi gateway model could also become reality in Europe, as Amazon’s latest activities in Cologne (CGN) show.
The invitations have already been sent out. Amazon plans to officially inaugurate its main European hub in Leipzig/Halle (LEJ) on 6 November - on a manageable scale, because of Corona. From that
day on, the East German airport, which is home to local hero DHL Express, will officially become the first European hub of the e-tailer from Seattle, USA.
In conjunction with the celebrations, a sorting and distribution hall built in lightweight construction is expected to be officially opened. The contract for its operation, which is already running, extends until 2023.
Do Cologne activities spoil the Leipzig party?
While preparations for the Leipzig event are well underway, on 26 October Amazon almost secretly started services to Cologne, operating a passenger-to-freighter converted B737-800B2F. The landing of the aircraft that will be permanently based in CGN happened almost unnoticed by media and the public because neither Amazon nor the airport management had informed the press nor did they send out a release after the plane had touched down. When asked for a statement shortly after the 37F touched down, Amazon did not react. This fuels speculation about the Cologne plans of Amazon and what role the airport might play in the network considerations of Amazon Air's European or even transcontinental services.
All players involved keep tight lipped
What is known to this point in time is that the aircraft (EI-DAD) is based in Cologne and operated by the Irish charter company ASL on behalf of Amazon. At Dublin-headquartered operator ASL nobody was available for a comment either.
Formerly, the plane belonged to the Ryanair fleet, was then P2F converted in China and is now serving the sectors CGN-MXP-CGN / CGN-MAD-CGN every single weekday.
Market experts believe that the move might only be the beginning with more freighters following, operating additional routes. If so, Cologne/Bonn would play a key role in Amazon’s future intra-European air services.
Several reasons support this view: Firstly, Amazon's aggressive international expansion strategy, secondly Prime Air's continued fleet growth, and thirdly the multi-hub system practiced by the e-tailer in the domestic U.S. market, which has proven its worth there.
Hence, the CGN plans are a hot issue, which will surely lead to discussions among the participants of the Amazon meeting on 6 November in Leipzig, when the E-tailer’s celebrates the inauguration of its first European Air Hub.
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