Amazon Air expansion takes wing with regional carriers

'A great growth opportunity for our company'

A Minnesota airline is teaming up with Amazon to fly more cargo planes.

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Sun Country Airlines plans to hire 70 pilots to fly Amazon Air-branded jets under a six-year deal with the e-commerce giant that will represent 20 percent of all the carrier's flights, according to the Minnesota Star-Tribune. The first trips will start in April.

“This is going to be a great growth opportunity for our company, and the important thing for the Twin Cities is it will make us a better airline for Minnesota leisure travelers," Sun Country CEO Jude Bricker told the Star Tribune.

The agreement marks the first time Amazon, which brought in a whopping $230 billion in U.S. revenue last year, has hired a commercial passenger airline, though it has contracted with cargo shippers such as Atlas Air, according to the outlet.

Sun Country, which brings in about $600 million in revenue annually, plans to add 10 airplanes to its fleet of 30 and hire maintenance staff.

“These are pretty highly compensated positions," Bricker told the Star Tribune. "We are very excited about this,”

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The airline will use converted Boeing 737-800 freighter planes in its venture with Amazon, which recently blocked its third-party sellers from using FedEx's ground-shipping service to deliver Prime packages.

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