Amazon’s air freight chief will now oversee the workplace safety unit
A wide-body aircraft emblazoned with the Amazon Prime logo lands at Lehigh Valley International Airport in Allentown, Pennsylvania, United States, December 20, 2016. Picture taken December 20, 2016. To match Insight AMAZON.COM- SHIPPING/ REUTERS/Mark Makela
Sarah Rhoads, who was responsible for Amazonbooming air cargo company, is changing roles to oversee the online retailer’s occupational health and safety division.
John Felton, Amazon’s head of global operations, announced the move in a memo to staffers Thursday, according to a copy of the memo seen by CNBC. Rhoads will also be in charge of Amazon’s global operations learning and development unit, which looks after things like career advancement and development for the company’s frontline workforce.
“Safety is paramount in all aspects of aerospace, and other industries look to aviation for safety best practices,” Felton wrote in the memo. “Sarah’s background as a decorated military pilot and her success at the helm of Amazon Global Air positions her as the ideal leader to take on this vital role.”
Raoul Sreenivasan, who joined Amazon in 2016 and currently oversees planning, performance and freight for Amazon Global Air, will assume most of Rhoads’ Amazon Air responsibilities, Felton said. Prior to joining Amazon, Sreenivasan worked at DHL and TNT Express, a European courier service acquired by FedEx.
Rhoads, a former US Navy F-18 pilot, was a top executive in Amazon’s vast logistics business. Over the past few years, Amazon has steadily moved more of its fulfillment and logistics operations in-house, building a transportation network the company says rivals. UPS in size.
As part of an effort to manage and deliver more of its own packages, Amazon has launched an air freight business. Rhoads joined Amazon Air in its early days and oversaw much of the unit’s growth, including the opening of a $1.5 billion airline hub in Kentucky.
Amazon has contracted more passenger airlines to carry packages in addition to other carriers like Aerial Atlas And ATSG. Sun Country, a leisure-focused carrier, began flying converted Boeing 737 freighters for Amazon in 2020, after travel collapsed in the Covid pandemic. In October, Amazon announced it had reached an agreement with Hawaiian Airlines to fly leased Airbus A330-converted cargo planes, which would be the largest aircraft in Amazon’s fleet and its first Airbus jets. The planes will help replace older jets in the company’s fleet, Amazon said.
Air freight rates have plunged from records reached in late 2021, when port booms and a shortage of international flights slashed capacity and drove up prices. The rebound in air travel boosted market capacity, while inflation fueled changes in consumer spending. Last year, FedEx said it would park some planes and cut some of its flights as part of its cost-cutting plan.
Amazon CEO Andy Jassy is in the midst of a broad corporate spending preview as the company reckon with an economic downturn and slowing growth in its core retail business. Amazon has rapidly expanded its distribution and transportation network in recent years in response to a surge in demand caused by a pandemic. It has since closed, canceled or delayed several warehouses across the United States.
The company has also faced growing pressure to improve its workplace safety record. Employees have criticized Amazon’s response to the coronavirus, arguing it’s not doing enough to protect them on the job, and the company has come under scrutiny over injury rates in its warehouses.
In September, Amazon appointed Becky Gansert to oversee its occupational health and safety unit after Heather MacDougall resigned from the company, CNBC previously reported.
Amazon disputed reports of unsafe working conditions. During MacDougall’s tenure, the company set ambitious goals to reduce injuries, including a plan to cut recordable incident rates in half, an OSHA measure covering injuries and illnesses, half by 2025.
Amazon last year pledged to be “Earth’s Greatest Employer”, adding it to its list of corporate values, even as social unrest escalated. The executive overseeing that effort, Pam Greer, left Amazon last April, according to Bloomberg.
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