Most Influential Projects 2020

30 Amazon Air Hub


For breaking new ground in e-commerce delivery, with a US$1.5 billion effort to command the skies

COVID-19 has taken a bite out of the bottom line for many businesses, but not Amazon. Even before consumers started hitting up the site to avoid in-person shopping during The Great Lockdown, sales for the e-commerce giant were already increasing, accentuating a years-long shift in buying habits. To get all those online purchases to shoppers’ homes, Amazon is taking to the skies, building a massive hub at CVG Airport in Hebron, Kentucky, USA.

The US$1.5 billion megaproject is aimed at giving Amazon a level of operational control on par with rival services such as FedEx and UPS, and is part of the company’s push to satisfy promises of one-day delivery to Prime customers. Buzzed about for years, the project broke ground in 2019—complete with a guest appearance by CEO Jeff Bezos.

2016: Amazon Air launches, after years of the company relying on third-party partners for air freight. The first Amazon-branded plane makes its debut in the United States, flying packages from New York to Washington. 

2017: Amazon unveils a US$1.5 billion project to build its own hub at CVG, leasing more than 900 acres (364 hectares) of land. Amazon begins flying out of CVG immediately, leasing space from global freight carrier DHL. The project provides a boost to the local economy, positioning CVG to “become the U.S. epicenter of e-commerce,” according to airport CEO Candace McGraw.

2019: Amazon kicks off its CVG hub project with a groundbreaking ceremony starring founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. Phase one includes an 800,000-square-foot (74,322-squaremeter) sort facility and 24 aircraft parking positions that will allow Amazon to operate 32 aircraft capable of 64 daily flights. Along with on-site construction, the project includes major infrastructure upgrades to the surrounding area, with highways  widened and new interchanges added in anticipation of increased, Amazon related traffic.

2021: Amazon Air’s CVG is slated to open next year, enabling Amazon to operate a cargo airline that would rank among the world’s largest, according to a 2020 DePaul University study.

2026: Phase two of the CVG hub—touted as even bigger than the first—is slated to include an enormous 2.6 million-square-foot (241,547-squaremeter) sort facility, along with enough new aircraft parking positions to house more than 100 Amazon planes. 

2028: The DePaul study estimates Amazon could operate 200 planes by 2028.