Retailer Amazon has taken space in Melbourne Airport Business Park as a depot for gig-economy Amazon Flex delivery drivers to service the city’s northern and western suburbs.
The 330sq m distribution hub in the airport’s 600-hectare business park – the country’s largest – is the first standalone facility for the delivery service Amazon launched in January, and which has to date run solely out of its fulfilment centre in Dandenong in south-eastern Melbourne.
“The Amazon Flex program gives us the agility to supplement the work we do with our existing carrier partners so we can speed up delivery times and respond to peaks in demand,” said Amazon Australia director of operations Craig Fuller.
“The new hub at Melbourne Airport will give us increased capacity to service customer orders to the north and west of Melbourne as needed.
Lease terms for the site at 8 Mace Way, on the edge of Airport Drive, were not disclosed.
The hub for its independent-contractor driver service helps Amazon overcome the challenges of last-mile delivery at a time of growing ecommerce. Packages will still be packed at the Dandenong centre and then transported to the Amazon Flex hub for delivery.
In Sydney, Amazon Flex drivers collect from Amazon’s existing centre in Moorebank. The company gave no detail of plans to open further hubs.
“We don’t have any further locations to announce but we will continue to evaluate our delivery network to support the needs of our customers,” Mr Fuller said.
The Amazon Flex service supplements Amazon’s four courier and logistics carriers – Australia Post, Toll, Fastway and Ceva – to deliver parcels.
Amazon Flex has been criticised overseas for undermining the rights of contractors, who have no job security or guaranteed hours, drive their own cars and pay for their own car maintenance, fuel, insurance and parking tickets.
Flex drivers in the US have complained that their take-home pay often falls to less than $US10 ($14.50) an hour after factoring in these expenses.
Melbourne Airport head of property Linc Horton said the business park offered good access to arterial roads.
“We were able to marry that connectivity with the sheer space we have available in our business park,” Mr Horton said.
“So when they called looking for a flexible warehousing option to support this program, we had the ability to cut through a whole lot of procedural red tape and just get a deal done for them.”
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