Amazon confirmed plans to lay off approximately 18,000 employees earlier this month. Comixology and Prime Air have been particularly hard hit by the change.
The latter’s drone delivery program was just getting started after beginning deliveries in test markets and unveiling a new model, but the layoffs are said to have had a significant impact on that team.
According to CNBC, Prime Air employees were informed of the layoffs on Wednesday. Design, maintenance, systems engineering, flight testing, and flight operations teams in the drone delivery department are said to have been laid off.
It has been claimed that workers at multiple locations, including Amazon’s Seattle headquarters and a drone testing facility in Oregon, have been fired. According to reports, half of the employees at the test site were let go.
Headcount reductions appeared to be unavoidable given the drone delivery group’s many difficulties over the years. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announced a plan in 2013 to begin delivering packages by drone within 30 minutes.
After years of testing, the company received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to begin delivering orders by drone in 2020. Just a few weeks ago, Amazon began doing so in Lockeford, California, and College Station, Texas.
A spokesperson for Amazon declined to tell CNBC how many Prime Air employees were laid off. The layoffs come just two months after the company unveiled a redesigned drone that can fly farther and withstand light rain than its predecessor.
Amazon executives have laid off employees from the hardware, Alexa, robotics, and physical store divisions in recent months. In early January, CEO Andy Jassy stated that the company is “prioritizing what matters most to customers and the long-term health of our businesses.”