Amazon plans the largest headcount reduction in its history, slashing 18,000 jobs to improve financials.
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Unfortunately, just as it is getting off the ground, Amazon drone delivery layoffs will hit the Prime Air team.
The Prime Air drone delivery team has been in the headlines since Jeff Bezos first brought the idea to the public in 2013. The company was early to drone delivery – possibly too early, as the retail giant was forced to step far out of its usual lines of business to develop an unmanned delivery aircraft from scratch.
Hit with stringent regulations concerning testing, and a rapidly evolving technology ecosystem, the program has gone through ups and downs. In 2021, Wired Magazine reported that the Prime Air team in the U.K. was in disarray, laying off workers and reshuffling roles. In 2022, however, Amazon seemed to make major progress with their drone delivery programs. Amazon announced ew FAA certifications, plans for new aircraft designs, and two drone delivery test sites.
Now, the program will be hit again with layoffs. CNBC reports that drone delivery layoffs have hit the entire organization, including “design, maintenance, systems engineering, flight testing and flight operations teams….”
Staffers were let go across multiple sites, including Seattle, where Amazon is headquartered. Amazon’s drone test site in Pendleton, Oregon, was hit particularly hard, with half of the team being let go, one Prime Air employee wrote in a LinkedIn post, which he subsequently deleted.
Amazon says that they plan to continue the test programs in College Station, TX and Lockeford, CA. The layoffs may, however, indicate that the company won’t be pouring investment into the project right now. CEO Andy Jassy, commenting on the need for headcount reduction, said that Amazon was “prioritizing what matters most to customers and the long-term health of our businesses.” It would appear that Prime Air is no longer a priority.
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Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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