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Amazon's shipping ambitions are now sky-high

The Seattle retailer, which is leasing 40 cargo airplanes, shows off one of its first planes.

Amazon One is clear for takeoff.

The e-commerce heavyweight on Friday revealed one of its new branded cargo airplanes, which it will also showcase this weekend at the Boeing Seafair Air Show in its hometown of Seattle. Dubbed Amazon One, the plane is emblazoned with the Prime Air name on the sides and Amazon's smile logo on the tail. It will be flown and operated by partner Atlas Air Worldwide.

Amazon created long-term partnerships with two airplane operators, Atlas Air and Air Transport Services Group, this year to allow the company to lease a total of 40 Boeing 767 freighter planes. There are currently 11 airplanes flying for Amazon with more planes rolling out soon.

amazon-one.jpg

Refreshments on Amazon One might include complimentary Pepsi, peanuts and Amazon Echo.

Amazon

The planes are another big sign of Amazon's expanding ambitions to develop more logistics operations. Its goal is to ship more products to its growing customer base even faster and -- it hopes -- at lower costs. Amazon last year unveiled Amazon Flex, an Uber-like service that lets regular people deliver packages for the company. It also bought 4,000 Amazon-branded truck trailers to shuttle goods between its growing network of 125 warehouses and 20 sorting facilities.

All these efforts have put Amazon's shipping partners, FedEx and UPS, in an awkward situation, in which they are repeatedly asked by industry analysts whether one of their biggest customers may soon cut back on deliveries. An even bigger issue for both those shippers would be if Amazon builds out its logistics network enough to become their direct competitor. For its part, FedEx has said Amazon is unlikely to spend the money needed to create a sizable delivery network.

Amazon, too, denies it intends to compete with its shipping partners, saying instead it needs the extra capacity, especially during the holiday season, to get all its orders to customers in time.

For now, these planes, truck trailers and Flex delivery workers should help Amazon keep up its effort to get items to customers faster.