Atlas Air has hit back at union claims about safety and working conditions, accusing them of conducting a misinformation campaign, but pilots have taken umbrage to the airline’s response.
The airline has called on the union to put aside protests to work with the company to achieve a Joint Collective Bargaining Agreement to increase pay for pilots.
It says protests are common tactics often used by unions to spread misinformation and gain leverage in contract negotiations.
On its website, Atlas Air has an article called “Atlas Air Sets Record Straight” where it highlights the union claims, or myths as it calls them, and gives its point of view.
It refutes the claim that safety is being compromised due to pilots being overworked, saying that there are legal and contractual obligations to adhere to rigorous safety standards.
Dismissing claims that pilots are burning out due to unruly schedules, Atlas Air says pilots fly an average of 42 hours a month compared to an industry average of 53 hours a month.
Denying that it has recruitment issues, saying the workforce has doubled in four years, with over 91% staying over three years with the average pilot having over 6,500 hours of experience.
Atlas Air says pilots have been receiving annual pay rises, saying they are getting increases on an annual basis under the Collective Bargaining Agreements, adding that it is committed to increasing current pay scales.
Unions have accused Atlas Air of not wanting to agree a new contract, but the airline insists this is not true saying it is eager to reach a new contract.
The airline also denies that customers control operations, saying they play no role governing operations or setting work rules, adding the pilots work for Atlas Air, not the customer.
The pilots have reacted with fury to the fact-checker, with Captain Robert Kirchner saying: “We take umbrage with Atlas’s false accusation that we are somehow inventing Atlas’s increasingly deteriorating operations in an effort to leverage contract negotiations. Atlas executives are either grossly out of touch with reality or desperately trying to hide their operational problems from their customers and the public.”
The executive council chairman for Atlas Air pilots of Teamsters Local 1224 says the staffing and operational problems are of the airline’s making, saying that its “foot dragging over contract negotiations” has driven pilots away from the carrier and hurt its ability to hire and retain pilots.
Kirchner says: “Atlas has gone to great lengths and has wasted a great deal of time and expense trying to blame the Union and its pilots for its problems, but, like a king with no clothes, Atlas now stands exposed to the public for its gross mistakes.”