Amazon Air launches new hub in Southern California

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How do you get a handmade item delivered from a small business in rural Connecticut to a customer in Los Angeles? The fastest way possible—in a straight line across the sky, thanks to Amazon Air and its thousands of incredible employees.

Amazon Air represents one of Amazon’s largest investments in the company’s transportation and logistics network, with more than 70 aircraft making daily flights at over 35 sites across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. And the operation is now expanding with the launch of our new regional air hub at San Bernardino International Airport in Southern California.

Amazon has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into the region, and this project marks Amazon’s seventh air site in California. The new hub was built from the ground up to service our operational needs while maintaining a steadfast focus on our Climate Pledge goals. The facility will operate a fleet of electric ground service equipment, and a solar panel rooftop is slated for installation later this year.

The facility has also created hundreds of great jobs for the local community that provide comprehensive benefits, a safe work environment, and a starting pay of at least $15 an hour—double the federal minimum wage. Team members in San Bernardino will work a variety of functions, from intricately loading and unloading our aircraft to sorting packages for onward transport.

Amazon aspires to be Earth’s best employer, and we are committed to giving our San Bernardino team and all of our employees—the heart of our operation—the resources to be successful in their roles and future careers. Here are just a few personal stories from our employees in San Bernardino.

Meet Kevin Ruiz, Aviation Security Specialist, Amazon Air

In 2020, Kevin Ruiz found himself in Washington state with his wife and kids longing for more stability and independence for his family. After his mother passed away unexpectedly, he wanted to reset. He decided to take a leap of faith and move back to Southern California where he was raised.

“The timing for moving back ended up being terrible,” said Ruiz. “It wasn’t long after I arrived that I was furloughed from my job in loss prevention with another company, and I had to start picking up small gigs to make ends meet.” By the summer of 2020, Ruiz was jobless, but he was looking for more than just a job. He wanted a career.

“I like to believe it was my mom who pointed me in the direction of Amazon. I had never worked for the company before, and didn’t know anyone who had, either. Something just told me to apply.”

Amazon hired Ruiz in January 2021 as an employee at Amazon Air’s facility at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California. According to Ruiz, his mother gave his instincts another nudge shortly after he joined Amazon. “I knew I wanted to take this opportunity and build a career at Amazon, and my managers were so helpful in pointing me in the right direction. I had a meeting with Aviation Security and a couple weeks later, I was working on their team.”

Ruiz’s ability to develop and manage policies and procedures made him a natural fit for a structured team that regularly interacts with security guards, operations management, and airport officials.

“Working at an airport, you deal with a lot of other outside entities like the Transportation Security Administration. I enjoy building relationships and learning new things, which spark ideas I can bring back to my team.”

Ruiz’s career trajectory was off to a strong start: He was promoted only six weeks into working at Amazon. Now, he’s taking on the next challenge by helping launch and secure the new regional air hub in San Bernardino. It’s a big job to manage an Amazon Air site and secure an air field, but as Ruiz sees it, he will always have his mother guiding his intuition and keeping him motivated.

Meet Marlyna Montes, Load Planner, Amazon Air

Amazon employees at the new San Bernardino Amazon Air location

Amazon employee turned nurse turned aircraft mechanic? Yes, that’s the story of one San Bernardino employee, Marlyna Montes. A Southern California native, she started out at a utilities company and then was drawn to the allure of working in aviation at a shipping company. Montes was recruited by Amazon in April 2019 and became the first load planner within the Amazon Air network. Load planners use software to weigh and balance packages in accordance with air carrier policies and procedures. The unique role allowed Montes to experience the latest and greatest in technology, while learning about how aircraft operate.

Soon into her role, Montes discovered another perk of working at Amazon—the Career Choice program. Amazon pays up to 95% of tuition and fees for eligible employees to use toward a certificate or diploma in qualified fields of study, leading to in-demand jobs. She took advantage of the program by pursuing a nursing degree, but ultimately decided that she missed the challenge and pace of her role at Amazon.

“I am going to get my nursing degree because I am so close to finishing, but, since we work hand-in-hand with the mechanics and pilots, I now want to learn more about this exciting field I’m in, and potentially become an aircraft mechanic.” Montes can’t stay away from the intricacies and troubleshooting involved in load planning.

Before joining the team, Montes had a fear of flying. Now, thanks to her work at Amazon and her new understanding of aviation, she is able to fly all over the country and visit her family without worry.

Meet Tiahana Gaines, Load Planner, Amazon Air

Amazon employees at the new San Bernardino Amazon Air location

Big machinery and music. These two interests get Tiahana Gaines out of bed in the morning, and both are helping shape her career at Amazon. Originally from Massachusetts, Gaines started out as an hourly fulfillment center employee locally in Fall River. Working within Amazon’s fulfillment operations ignited an underlying aspiration.

“I wanted to drive the big trucks and big machinery,” said Gaines.

After joining the Transportation Operations Management team, Gaines worked hand-in-hand with drivers and transportation assets, allowing her to earn a living while she made plans to pursue an even bigger dream: to pursue a career in music management.

“I come from a music family. They all have careers centered on music,” she said, noting that she loves listening to music and playing the drums and the trumpet.

While at Amazon, Gaines completed both a bachelor’s degree in sports entertainment event management from Rhode Island University and a master’s degree in presenting and live entertainment management from the University of Miami.

“The schedule and flexibility at Amazon allowed me the space to pursue my music career, while still having a job with good pay and benefits,” Gaines said.

Eventually, Gaines transferred to a new position on the West Coast at Amazon’s facility at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California. Working as a load planner, she welcomed the opportunity to focus on something new with Amazon Air. Gaines has spent the past few weeks gearing up for the launch of the regional air hub in San Bernardino, where she will take on a leadership role and manage more people at the site.

The new role also brought her closer to Los Angeles, where she could network and eventually grow into a career in music management. She hopes to one day make her dream a reality with a position at Amazon Studios.

“I love that there are so many opportunities for employees in this company, and so many different ways to advance your career in a short amount of time. Right now, I am developing my leadership and coordination skills as a load planner, which coincides with the same skills I will need to manage music talent one day.”

Amazon employees at the new San Bernardino Amazon Air location

Photo by Leon Bennett

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