Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is taking the first steps to further integrate its Prime Air fleet into its operations by directly acquiring a Boeing 767 cargo plane. While Amazon has 36 other 767s in its fleet, this is the first one that will operate under direct registration to Amazon rather than being leased.

Amazon Prime Air plane being loaded with cargo

Image source: Amazon.com.

The aircraft industry site PaxEx.Aero noticed Amazon Services LLC was issued the registration N503AZ for the 767-338 on Aug. 31, joining a fleet of over 80 aircraft.

Previously, Amazon leased most of its cargo aircraft through Air Transport Services Group (NASDAQ:ATSG), which typically provides the fleet with 767s, and Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings (NASDAQ:AAWW), which supplies 737s and 767s. Amazon has taken an ownership stake in both companies.

Last year Amazon also leased 15 737s through General Electric's GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS).

Amazon's new plane is actually an old one. It was first put into service back in 1991 with Qantas Airways (OTC: QABS.Y), and more recently was with WestJet Airlines until being placed into storage in early 2019.

The direct registration comes just as the Federal Aviation Administration granted Amazon a certificate to operate a fleet of Prime Air drones to deliver packages.

The developments stem from the need to quickly deliver more goods to consumers who out of necessity turned to online shopping during the pandemic. The crisis also likely made older aircraft more affordable as the global aviation industry collapsed in the wake of the pandemic. With planes grounded and demand still tepid at best, aircraft in storage are unnecessary.

Amazon has four additional plane registrations reserved with the FAA.