Amazon bought C-FOGJ from WestJet on Thursday (to be N503AZ)
So this one is totally-weird.
Amazon is acquiring its own aircraft now? Do you know what Amazon entity bought it? (The FAA only shows that serial number as a pending import under that tail number, with the entity left blank.)
Assuming Amazon really is buying its own aircraft, the only possible reaction is "it's about time".
First of all, no one currently has lower cost of capital than Amazon. Therefore, the lowest possible capital cost for Amazon is to own the aircraft itself. Having Atlas or ATSG or even GE doing that on their behalf is capital inefficient. There was a time when GE had stellar credit - that time is now past. Amazon's credit is better than GE's.
Secondly, it may be that Amazon expects to be more of a taxpayer in the future - i.e. have sufficient profitability that it expects to actually pay cash taxes. If that's true, then depreciation coming off of the aircraft (which you only get when you own, not lease, the aircraft) may be useful for them in terms of sheltering profits.
Thirdly, owning the aircraft gives Amazon more, not less, flexibility. Amazon likes leasing things because it (before recent accounting changes) allowed them to keep them off its balance sheet - well, the recent accounting changes even the playing field in that respect (operating leases now go on the balance sheet).
Also, and I happen to know this from private communication, Amazon had this charmingly naive point of view that leasing is more flexible, which might be true if you're thinking about the spot market for truck trips, but is just silly when you enter into a 10 year lease with e.g. CAM or Titan or whatever. You're on the hook for... 10 years! And there will be lot of lease terms and conditions regarding, e.g. return conditions. Whereas if you own the thing, you have much more ability to do with it what you will. Want to get out of the business altogether and dump the aircraft as is? Fine, do it.
Plus, if you own the thing, then you're operating agreements can be shorter term, have more flexibility and greater ability to get out of them when you want, because your operator is not stuck with the capital cost of the aircraft if you walk away.
Fourthly, if you own the aircraft, then you enter into operating arrangements for the aircraft that do not include profit on the capital component. This is analogous to what regional airlines have been doing with majors. ATSG, etc, won't make as much absolute profit per flight, but their operating margin will stay as high because their revenue per flight will also be lower. It will still look good to Wall St.
In other words, it's kind of a no brainer. So why didn't Amazon go this way to start?
At least as of a couple years ago, Amazon didn't have a great reputation with lessors. Their view was that Amazon was, on a raw intellect basis, extremely powerful - but were arrogant and innocent of a lot of important industry nuance. Very smart but quite ignorant. So, overall, not as impressive as they viewed themselves.
But, "very smart" means that, over time, they will figure out the industry nuance. It sounds like that process is well underway.