Despite passenger airlines phasing out their Boeing 767 fleets in favor of more fuel-efficient A321 and 787 aircraft, the demand for the 1980s era plane is higher than it has been since airlines first ordered it.
In early 2016, Amazon announced that they would begin the process of acquiring Boeing 767 aircraft to play packages exclusively for them. In August 2016, the first of these aircraft entered the fleet. N1997A entered service flying for its 7th airline, operated by Atlas Air. This aircraft was converted from a passenger aircraft to a cargo aircraft in 2015 after finishing service with Russian leisure carrier, Nordwind. The aircraft was originally delivered to Sobelair, a Belgian airline that ceased operations in 2004. In between its time with Sobelair and its entry into the Amazon Prime fleet, N1997A flew for five different airlines including Vietnam Airlines and Air Europa.
Since N1997A entered service, 17 other 767s have entered service flying packages for Amazon Prime. None of these 767s are operated by Amazon. The operations are split between Atlas Air and Air Transport International(ATI). This is so Amazon does not have to deal with the process of hiring and training pilots, as well as ground employees and maintenance staff. All of these jobs are handled by Atlas or ATI employees, or the third parties that are hired by them.
With fuel prices forecasted to remain low for the foreseeable future, cargo airlines are turning to the 767. While many 767s at passenger airlines have frequent maintenance issues, they are also flying for 12-18 hours a day. Flying for Amazon, most of these aircraft are flying no more than 8-12 hours a day, reducing wear and tear and increasing the reliability of them.
Amazon’s 18 767s come from a range of airlines. The aircraft now flying for them have flown for airlines on every continent (except Antarctica) including Air New Zealand, Kenya Airways, KLM, Asiana, LAN, and American Airlines. Despite some of them being nearly 30 years old, they continue to be reliable enough to warrant Atlas and ATI snatching up nearly every one that is still in flying condition. These aircraft have worn the liveries of nearly 35 different airlines between the 18 aircraft currently in the fleet and six aircraft scheduled to join,
Let’s take a look at the rest of the aircraft operating for Amazon Prime Air:
N307AZ-N307AZ (line number 665) was originally delivered to Qantas in passenger configuration in June of 1997. It was then converted to a freighter in Tel Aviv, Israel(TLV) in August 2016, before being the first aircraft operated by ATI to operate for Amazon in September of 2016.
N311AZ-N311AZ (line number 397) was also delivered to Qantas in passenger configuration in October of 1991. After being stored in Victorville, California (VCV), in August of 2014, it was converted to a freighter in TLV in March of 2016, and entered service with ATI flying for Amazon Prime Air in October of 2016.
N313AZ-N313AZ (line number 344) was originally delivered to Qantas in passenger configuration in December of 1990. It was stored at VCV from June 2014 till May of 2016. It was then flown to Tel Aviv and converted to a freighter in November of 2016 before entering the ATI fleet flying for Amazon Prime Air in December of 2016.
N1049A-N1049A (line number 767) was originally delivered to Russian airline Aeroflot in October of 1999 before later going to now-defunct Russian carrier Transaero in August of 2014. It was then stored in Shanghai (PVG) from October 2015 to March of 2016, when it was flown to Tel Aviv and converted to a freighter. It entered service with Atlas Air flying for Amazon Prime Air in January of 2017.
N331AZ-N331AZ (line number 371) was originally delivered to Air New Zealand in June of 1991. In August of 2002, this aircraft was then leased to Air Niugini, a small airline operating in Papua New Guinea. In November 2011, PLUNA, the now defunct flag carrier of Uruguay, leased this airframe. It flew for PLUNA for just under two years before being leased to VIVA Macau, a short-lived airline operating out of Macau, a small Chinese autonomous region near Hong Kong known for its casinos. In November of 2011, it was leased to charter airline Omni Air International where it flew its final days in passenger configuration. It was stored in Tuscon, Arizona (TUS) until April of 2016 when it was flown to Wilmington, Ohio (ILN), Amazon Prime Air’s old hub. In August of 2016, it flew to Tel Aviv and was converted into a freighter in February of 2017 before entering service with ATI operating for Amazon Prime Air.
N359AZ-N359AZ (line number 221) was originally delivered to American Airlines in May of 1988. It flew for American until May of 2015, when it was stored in Roswell, New Mexico (ROW). It flew to Wilmington and was stored there from April to August of 2016, before flying to Tel Aviv and being converted into a freighter in January of 2017. It then entered service with ATI operating for Amazon Prime Air in April of 2017. This is the oldest 767-300 in Amazon Prime Air’s fleet, just shy of 30 years old.
N1093A-N1093A (line number 776) was originally delivered to Aeroflot in December of 1999 and flew for them until April of 2014 when it was transferred to Transaero, like N1049A. N1093A was stored in Shanghai from October of 2015 until June of 2016. It was then converted to a freighter in February of 2017 before entering service with Atlas Air operating for Amazon Prime Air in April of 201\7.
N347AZ-N347AZ (line number 555) was originally delivered to Air New Zealand in 1994. It was then leased by British low-cost carrier Flyglobespan. It was leased to Air India for a brief time in 2007 before Flyglobespan went out of business in 2008. Air India continued to operate it until December of 2009 when it was stored at RAF Brize Norton and later Miami. It was scheduled to be leased to Luzair, a Portuguese charter airline, but was never delivered due to financial issues. Like N331AZ, N347AZ then flew for charter airline Omni Air from 2010 to early 2016. It was then stored in Wilmington before being flown to Tel Aviv and being converted to a freighter in March of 2017. It then entered service with ATI flying for Amazon Prime Air in April 2017.
N1217A-N1217A (line number 430) was originally scheduled to be delivered to Canadian Airlines International in early 1992 but was never delivered. Eventually, it was leased to China Southern in November 1992 and flew with them until 1997 when it was delivered to LAN Chile. It flew with them until December of 2008, when it was transferred to LAN Argentina. In October 2010, it went back to the parent airline, LAN Airlines before being retired in Marana (MZJ) in January 2016. In November 2016, it was flown to Singapore (QPG), where it was converted to a freighter in April 2017. It then entered service with Atlas Air Operating for Amazon Prime Air in April 2017.
N1229A-N1229A (line number 738) was originally delivered to KLM Airlines in February 1999 where it flew until March 2007 when it was leased to Malev Hungarian Airlines. Shortly after in October 2008, it was painted in the color scheme of S7 Siberia Airlines but was never delivered to them. In July 2009, it was delivered to Air Seychelles and flew with them until April of 2012. Ethiopian Airlines took delivery of the airframe in June of 2012 where it operated until October 2016, when it was stored in Tel Aviv. It was converted to a freighter in April 2017 before entering service with Atlas Air operating for Amazon Prime in June of 2017.
N353AZ-N353AZ (line number 431) was delivered to American Airlines in may if 1992 where it flew until being stored in Roswell from November 2015 until November 2016. It was then flown to Tel Aviv at the end of November 2016 and converted into a freighter in May of 2017. It then entered service with ATI operating for Amazon Prime Air in June of 2017.
N1321A-N1321A (line number 587) was originally delivered to KLM Airlines in July of 1995 where it spent just shy of ten years. In April 2005, this airframe was delivered to Zoom Airlines, a Canadian low-cost airline. In December 2007, it was transferred to sister airline Zoom Airlines UK, where the registration was switched from C-GZNA to G-CZNA. When Zoom ceased operations in 2008, the aircraft was returned to ILFC, a leasing corporation, until it was delivered to Flyglobespan in March of 2009. Shortly after, it was withdrawn from service in December of 2009. It was then leased to Nordwind Airlines from May 2010 before it was stored at Tarbes-Lourdes Airport in southwest France in December 2015. It was then flown to Singapore (QPG) in February 2017 before being converted in May of 2017. It then entered service with Atlas Air flying for Amazon Prime Air in June of 2017.
N1181A-N1181A (line number 487) was originally delivered to Asiana Airlines in May of 1993. It flew for them before being delivered to Iberia in March of 1998. It spent just shy of four years with Iberia before being delivered to Kenya Airways in December of 2001. It then made its trip to its third continent in June of 2005, when Air Canada took delivery of it. It remained with Air Canada until January of 2012 when it was delivered to Mega Global Air, an airline based in the Maldives. It was then stored in Xiamen, China (XMN) in May of 2016 where it was damaged by a hurricane in September of 2016. The airframe was flown to Tel Aviv where it was stored from November of 2016 until its conversion in June of 2017.
N1709A-N1709A (line number 248) was originally delivered to Canadian Airlines International in March 1989. It flew for until November of 1997, when it was then delivered to Brazilian carrier Varig. It was then purchased by EuroAtlantic Airways in December 2006, when it was then leased back to Varig, where it flew until October 2008. It was then returned to EuroAtlantic and converted to a freighter in November of 2009 in Tel Aviv. It flew for EuroAtlantic Cargo until December of 2012, when it was leased to Lebanese cargo carrier, Trans Mediterranean Airways. In June 2014, it went back to EuroAtlantic Cargo, where it flew until February 2017 when it was stored in Goodyear, Arizona (GYR). It entered service with Atlas Air flying for Amazon Prime Air in July 2017. This is the only aircraft in the Amazon Prime Air fleet that was already in cargo configuration prior to joining the fleet.
N337AZ-N337AZ (line number 540) was originally delivered to American Airlines in May of 1994 where it flew until November 2015, when it was stored in Roswell. It was then flown to Wilmington in and stored there from August-December 2016. The airframe was then ferried to Tel Aviv and converted to a freighter in June 2017. ATI put the airframe into service in July 2017 flying for Amazon Prime Air.
N1361A-N1361A (line number 570) was originally delivered to Asiana Airlines in March of 1995. It flew for Asian until April of 2002, when it was returned to the leasing corporation. It then flew for Southern Winds Airlines of Argentina from September of 2002 until October of 2003 where it was delivered to LAN Airlines. Like line number 430, this aircraft was transferred to LAN Argentina in July of 2006. Then, it went back to LAN Airlines in March of 2008 where it flew until June of 2016 when it was stored in Goodyear. It was ferried to Singapore (QPG) at the end of March 2017 where it was converted to a freighter in July. The airframe entered service with Atlas Air operating for Amazon Prime Air in August 2017.
N1327A-N1327A (line number 637) was originally delivered to Air Seychelles in December of 1996. It was operated by Air Seychelles for the Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom for a brief period of time from January 2010 until September 2011. Air Seychelles returned the airframe to the lessor in June of 2012. Next, it was leased to Nordwind Airlines in December 2012. Nordwind leased it out to Ikar, another Russian Airline (now named Pegas), until January of 2016 when it was stored at Tarbes-Lourdes Airport. It was then leased to Atlas Air and converted to a freighter in March of 2017. The airframe finally entered service flying for Amazon Prime air on October 6th.
There are also several more 767s that have not yet joined the fleet but will in the next couple of months.
N1373A-N1373A (line number 528) was originally delivered to British leisure airline Airtours International Airways in March of 1994. While this airline does not exist anymore, it has been merged into the Thomas Cook Group of Airlines. In 2002, the aircraft was transferred to MyTravel, another British leisure airline. It was leased out to Garuda Indonesia for the holiday seasons of 2003, 2004, and 2005 before returning to MyTravel until April of 2005 when it was leased out to Canadian Airline Skyservice Airlines from April to November of 2005. This airframe then went back to MyTravel until February of 2008 when it was transferred to Thomas Cook Airlines, who MyTravel also merged with. In October 2008, it was once again leased out to Garuda Indonesia before returning to Thomas Cook in February of 2009. In December 2013, the airframe was transferred within the Thomas Cook Group to Condor, a German leisure airline before eventually returning to Thomas Cook in April of 2014. It was removed from Service in November 2016 before being flown to Tel Aviv in February of 2017 for conversion for Atlas Air. It has not yet entered service.
N1381A-N1381A (line number 681) was originally delivered to LAN Airlines in December of 1997. Like many other frames, it was transferred within the LAN group to LAN Argentina in September of 2006. It was then transferred back to LAN Airlines in December of 2008. As part of the merger between LAN and TAM, the airframe was transferred to TAM in June 2015 to fly out of Brazil. IT was painted in the OneWorld paint scheme. It was recently converted in Singapore (QPG) and will likely enter the fleet sometime before the Holiday season or shortly after.
N1399A-N1399A (line number 609) was originally delivered to KLM in June of 1996. Next, it was delivered to Aeroflot in June of 2006 and flew with them until February 2013. It stayed within Russia as it was then leased to Nordwind Airlines in June 2013 until December of 2014 when it was stored in Tarbes-Lourdes. In April 2015, it was delivered to Mega Global Air of the Maldives and flew for them until December of 2016 when it went into storage in Marana. It was then ferried through Cincinnati to Tel Aviv for its conversion into a freighter in early May. It has not yet left Tel Aviv, meaning it likely is still in the queue for a conversion to a freighter.
N1409A-N1409A (line number 625) was originally delivered to KLM Airlines in August 1996. It flew for them for just under ten years when it was delivered to Aeroflot Airlines in June of 2006. In June of 2013, it was transferred to Russian airline Nordwind Airlines. It lasted less than two years at Nordwind before being delivered to Mega Global Air in March of 2015. In May of 2017, it was put into storage at Clark International Airport in the Philippines (CRK). Atlas took the aircraft in August of this year, but it has not yet been flown to Tel Aviv or Singapore for conversion.
N1427A-N1427A (line number 607) was delivered in KLM Airlines in May of 1996. It flew for KLM for just under ten years and then it was delivered to North American Airlines in March of 2006. Like many of the other 767s, it ended up at Nordwind Airlines in June of 2011. It was stored at Tarbes-Lourdes Airport on the last day of 2015. Atlas took control of it in June of 2016, and it is likely in the queue for conversion.
N191AZ-N191AZ (line number 54) will be the oldest aircraft in the Amazon Prime Air fleet at just under 35 years old once it is officially transferred to them. Currently, it is the only planned 767-200 in the Amazon Prime Air fleet. It was first delivered to All Nippon Airways (ANA) of Japan in May of 1983. It was then converted to a freighter sometime in 1997, making it one of the first ever 767 conversions. It first flew cargo for Airborne Express before being transitioned into the ABX Air fleet in 2003 when Airborne Express was bought by DHL. It is scheduled to be transferred into the Amazon Prime Air fleet shortly.
Amazon is not the only airline snatching up used 767s. Kalitta has recently acquired seven 767-300s that were former passenger aircraft and have similar histories to the Amazon fleet. UPS, which has 61 767 freighters straight from the Boeing factory, recently signed a deal with Boeing for three more converted 767s.
Featured image by Harrison F.