Amazon growth helps area air park grow businesses

New tenant flies planes for e-commerce giant’s Prime Air

Two companies with ties to e-commerce giant Amazon will now fly out of the Wilmington Air Park, officials said.

Air Atlas Worldwide, which signed a seven-year deal in May to fly 20 planes for Amazon, is the latest tenant to move into the air park that lost 7,000 jobs in 2008 when DHL announced it was leaving, the park’s owner said Wednesday.

“We have another air cargo operator at the air park, one that is significant in the air freight industry” said Daniel Evers, executive director for the Clinton County Port Authority, which owns the air park after it was donated by DHL in 2010.

“It’s also market validation for what we’ve been doing here,” Evers added.

Atlas Air Worldwide landed its first air cargo flight in Wilmington Wednesday.

Amazon has now leased a total of 40 Boeing jets from Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings and Air Transport Services Group Inc., which is Wilmington Air Park’s biggest and busiest tenant. The five-year deal with ATSG to fly 20 jets was reported by the Dayton Daily News in March.

Last week, Amazon unveiled its first Boeing 767-300 with “Prime Air” painted on its fuselage that will be flown by Atlas and ATSG. The company said 11 of the planes already are delivering packages for Amazon’s annual Prime loyalty program, which offers free two-day shipping and other perks.

The company is trying to take more control of its delivery process as the demand for its products increases worldwide. Amazon reported it had an estimated 1 billion packages delivered in 2015.

Aircraft like Amazon One allow the company to “continue to maintain our fast delivery speeds and lower our costs as our Prime base and our Prime member growth continue to soar,” Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, told the Columbus Dispatch last week.

Amazon said it plans to continue to use FedEx, UPS and other transportation partners.

“Because of our growth and the sheer amount of packages, we are supplementing our transportation needs,” Clark told the Columbus Dispatch.

Evers said he has not asked Atlas what the company is flying to and through Wilmington, and he referred questions about that to Atlas.

Atlas officials did not return calls for comment.

“We expect to place our first aircraft into service for Amazon soon in this quarter,” Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings president and CEO William Flynn told Air Transport World. “We have secured all of the conversion slots and the vast majority of the feedstock aircraft required to support 20 767-300s for Amazon by the end of 2018.”

Evers said air park’s board of trustees will vote Thursday morning on a proposed operating agreement between the park and Atlas Air Worldwide, a Purchase, N.Y.-based company.

The agreement stipulates no precise employment at the Clinton County air park. But Evers said: “At the present time, they are going to fly one flight seven days a week (at the Wilmington park). We anticipate that will generate some employment.”

The air park issued no official announcement on the tenant, but its Twitter account (@WilmingtonAirPk) welcomed the company.

“We’re pleased to welcome @AtlasAirWW as our newest scheduled #aircargo carrier, and newest tenant! #FirstLanding,” a tweet on Wednesday said.

Congratulatory tweets followed from others, including Jeff Hoagland, the president and chief executive of the Dayton Development Coalition.

On a typical day, some 1,400 people working for at least 10 companies go to work at the air park.

Atlas Air Worldwide is the parent company of Atlas Air, Inc., Southern Air Holdings, Inc. and Titan Aviation Holdings, Inc., and is the majority shareholder of Polar Air Cargo Worldwide, Inc., companies which operate what the parent company calls “the world’s largest fleet of 747 freighter aircraft and … the broadest array of Boeing 747, 777, 767, 757 and 737 aircraft for domestic, regional and international applications.”

Atlas Air Worldwide’s companies manage and operate for customers around the world — “including to any city capable of handling a Boeing 747,” the company says on a fact sheet. In 2015, Atlas operated more than 32,500 flights, serving 426 destinations in 123 countries.

Atlas Air Worldwide recently posted second-quarter net income of $20.6 million, down 27.5 percent from the $28.4 million reported a year ago.