Amazon has confirmed an early Financial Times report outlining layoffs at the retail giant’s Prime Air drone delivery program.
“As part of our regular business operations, we are reorganizing one small team within our larger Prime Air organization to allow us to best align with the needs of our customers and the business,” spokesperson Kristen Kish said in a statement offered to TechCrunch. “For affected employees, we are working to find roles in the areas where we are hiring that best match their experience and needs.”
The statement echoes similar sentiment from Amazon departments that have undergone headcount reduction, including the bit about attempting to shift employees around inside the company. Among other things, it’s an attempt to get out in front of suggestions that the project could be struggling. The company adds, however, that it is committed to the Prime Air project.
The initial report points to dozens of layoffs, though Amazon, unsurprisingly, is loath to give an exact figure. Understandably, the ambitious project, which would add rapid air delivers to Amazon’s existing robust delivery structure, hasn’t exactly been a quick launch.
In a blog post tied to the company’s RE:Mars conference last June, consumer head Jeff Wilke noted, “[W]ith the help of our world-class fulfillment and delivery network, we expect to scale Prime Air both quickly and efficiently, delivering packages via drone to customers within months.”
Certainly the health risks to essential workers during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a prime candidate for such a launch, but there are a number of hurdles for the program, including both regulatory and technological. In August, the service received FAA approval for trials.