Cargo pilots concerned about how airlines are run

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Atlas Air Boeing 747-8F

Pilots contracted to fly for Amazon Air and DHL are concerned about the way their airlines are being run, survey results have found.

More than 1,200 pilots at Atlas Air Worldwide subsidiaries Atlas Air and Southern Air, and Air Transport Services Group (ATSG) subsidiary ABX Air were asked questions about hiring, retaining, scheduling and more.

Of the pilots, more than 60 per cent were preparing to leave their carrier and seek work at competitors including FedEx and UPS.

With the peak season approaching, the pilots highlighted how the situation could affect deliveries for Amazon Air and DHL, with almost 50 per cent reporting flight delays or cancellations.

More than 75 per cent of pilots strongly disagreed that morale at their carrier was high with 80 per cent saying they would not recommend their carrier to a friend working in the industry.

Teamsters Local 1224 executive council chairman for Atlas Air Pilots, Captain Robert Kirchner says: “Executives need to take these survey results seriously. We are already losing the race with competitors to maintain and attract pilots. Yet executives appear to be intentionally ignoring the structural problems that are plaguing our airlines, which spells even greater problems.

“At Atlas Air, we’re already experiencing delays and operational disruptions and are slow to roll-out Amazon Air planes because we don’t have the pilots.”

Among the results, more than 80 per cent strongly disagreed that they were satisfied with pay and benefits, while 91 per cent strongly disagreed that their pay and benefits met industry standards.

Survey results also say that more than 80 per cent of pilots were concerned about their carrier’s ability to recruit and retain qualified pilots, while nearly 70 per cent had little confidence in management’s ability to adequately staff their airline.

Teamsters Local 1224 ABX Air executive council chairman, Captain Rick Ziebarth says: “More than half of surveyed ABX Air pilots plan to retire in the next five years, and that should be a huge wake-up call for ATSG executives who’ve been tuned out for too long. A new contract is desperately needed to enable ABX Air to hire and retain the pilots needed for the future.”

Unions say Atlas Air, Southern Air and ABX Air have been stalling contract negotiations for years, which pilots say is impeding the ability to secure new business contracts.

Atlas Air Worldwide hired 288 new pilots this year, with 145 leaving, while at Southern Air, 37 were hired and 46 left.