It has been common at Latin American airports to find cargo jets with yellow fuselage bearing the Mercado Livre brand. Founded in Argentina, the e-commerce company is following in the footsteps of the pioneer Amazon and expanding its fleet of cargo aircraft.
So far, Mercado Livre already has ten planes at the service of its express deliveries. There are three Boeing 737-400F, three Boeing 737-800BCF, two DC-9F and two E195 “Preighter”, a light conversion of the passenger aircraft adapted for cargo.
The difference is that none of these planes actually belong to Mercado Livre, but to partners such as Sideral Linhas Aéreas, TSM, Gol and, more recently, also Azul.
To speed up its deliveries where it operates, the company created Meli Air in 2020, after closing an agreement with the Brazilian cargo carrier Sideral. Thanks to this, one of its 737-400s was painted in the company’s colors.
Soon after, the Argentine parent company did the same with TSM, which put two DC-9 freighters at the service of express deliveries between 2020 and 2021. Last year, TSM started to operate two 737-400Fs on the Mercado Libre network .
Expansion in Brazil
In August 2022, Gol entered into a partnership with Mercado Livre to put six Boeing 737-800BCF into service, a conversion to cargo carried out by the manufacturer itself, to reinforce the capacity to process orders in Brazil.
Three of them are currently in service with the GOLLOG division, the most recent, PS-GFC, added to the fleet last week. Of the remaining three, one 737 will be delivered in March while the others will enter into operation in 2023.
The 737-800BCF significantly increased Mercado Livre’s capacity, as they can carry up to 24 tons of cargo.
“The synergy with GOLLOG strengthens us to continue exploring the many opportunities of Brazilian e-commerce, with our air operation gaining more and more relevance, both for the results of our marketplace, and for the guarantee of quality and agility of deliveries throughout Brazil,” said Pablo Navarrete, senior transport director at Mercado Livre for Latin America.
The operation of Meli Air now has a fourth partner, Azul Linhas Aéreas. The company is supplying Embraer E195 jets adapted to carry small loads, a conversion known as “Preighter”.
Unlike the 737-800BCF or Embraer’s P2F program, the adaptation made by Azul does not remove the original configuration for passengers, it only creates conditions for small volumes to be taken on board, basically the MercadoLibre cargo profile.
Two E195s are already flying with Mercado Livre’s colors and at least one more is on its way. The two companies have had an agreement since 2019, but until then, orders were shipped only on planes with the Azul brand.
Due to the good pace of growth, it will not be surprising if South American airports start to receive visits from more yellow planes with the Mercado Livre brand in the coming years.