Amazon’s Prime Air delivery service in disarray

Amazon’s Prime Air drone delivery service is is in disarray as launch delays and a 20 per cent turnover rate put a spanner in the works of one of the company’s biggest projects.

The service has been plagued with teething issues since it was first announced in 2013 including longterm employee wars with new hires, with some airing frustrations over newly hired Boeing execs.

There have also been questions raised over a lack of transparency, high turnover rates and launch delays as Prime Air was due to go live in some US cities in 2019, however the service has yet to materialise.

Insider has reported that there are cultural clashes between new executives and existing employees within the company structure.

“One peer remarked that in the last year all four of the individuals in his leadership chain have been replaced by Boeing expats,” a transcript of a meeting obtained by Insider said.

“What are we doing to preserve Amazon’s unique culture and principles within Prime Air while building out our organisation with established industry leaders?”

The term “expats” was received poorly by Prime Air vice president and former Boeing executive David Carbon, claiming it was “ridiculous” and likened it to refusing to hire people from Microsoft when you need software experts.

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“Software expertise comes from companies like that,” he added.

“Likewise, aerospace expertise comes from companies like Boeing, in the words of Jeff B, we are an aerospace organisation that needs to be steeped in aerospace methods and practices in order to ensure the safety of our products. The secret is to merge that with what is great about Amazon.

“I don’t make any apologies for the hiring we’re making, and I don’t make any apologies for pivoting Prime Air closer to Amazon.”

The contretemps was the latest in a series of disagreements and squabbles between Prime Air employees as the service has struggled to match high expectations.

The delays have been in part because of a lack of focus, years of internal conflict, and regulatory obstacles, Insider previously reported.

The mounting pressures and disagreements continue to plague the roll out of the service.

Prime Air is planning on instigating a soft launch in the third quarter of 2022, according to people familiar with the matter.

According to Insider, as Amazon continues to hire from larger, more mature businesses there are growing concerns from employees that problems will get worse amid the biggest management upheaval since the company’s birth.

The cultural differences between longtime Amazon employees and new hires within Prime Air is also an issue that’s becoming more problematic across the company, as Amazon continues to expand and bring in new people from large, mature businesses — a worrying trend that employees previously told Insider was expected to only worsen amid the biggest leadership upheaval in company history.

In an email to Insider, Amazon’s spokesperson said Prime Air’s attrition rate had improved in recent months.

“Prime Air has new leadership and it’s normal for some team members to find new roles as the program transitions from R&D to an operations focus,” the spokesperson said.

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