WILMINGTON, OH. November 24, 2016. UPDATE: Striking pilots working for ABX Air, part of the Air Transport Services Group (ATSG), have been ordered to return to work following a ruling by a U.S. District Court judge.
According to ATSG, the judge determined that the pilots’ grievances constitute a “minor dispute” that must be resolved under terms of a labor agreement with ABX Air.
The company’s 250 flight crew represented by the Airline Professionals Association Teamsters Local 1224, walked off the job earlier this week claiming the airline “has been significantly understaffed, resulting in pilots continuously being forced to work ‘emergency’ assignments on their off time”.
ABX Air president John Starkovich responded saying his company would seek a court order to “restore the status quo operating environment, even as we continue discussions with union representatives about specific issues of concern”.
Earlier this month, the same judge that now has ruled against the pilots dismissed a motion by ABX Air and ATSG for a temporary restraining order against them and their union.
In March this year, ATSG signed a contract with amazon for ABX Air to operate 20 B767 freighters on its behalf by 2018. According to the pilot’s union, the company is already flying 35 flights a day with 14 aircraft for amazon in addition to 45 flights a day for DHL.
Two months later Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings signed a similar arrangement with amazon. Now pilots at its subsidiaries - Atlas Air, Southern Air and Polar Air – are expressing their support for the ABX Air pilots according to Daniel Wells, an Atlas Air captain and president of Teamsters Local 1224.
“ABX Air executives need to stop trying to force ABX pilots to make up for their own mismanagement and get serious about hiring enough pilots to serve their customers,” he declared.
Noting the timing with amazon’s post-Thanksgiving ‘Black Friday’ sales event, Starkovich had said during the stoppage that ABX Air was notifying its customers and other affected parties about temporary interruptions in ABX’s flight operations, allowing them to adjust their networks until pilots return to work and normal flight operations resume.”
Following the latest ruling, ATSG said its pilots have now resumed their flying for ABX Air.
In a related development, Amerijet pilots represented by the Teamster union Local 769 have reached a tentative agreement on a four-year contract with the airline. According to the union, the agreement includes a "massive" initial increase in base wages for Captains and First Officers of more than 55 to 75 percent, with yearly wage increases on top of the signing boost. "This is a contract we are proud to take to the membership," commented Captain David Bourne, director of the Teamsters Airline Division.
Earlier this month, Miami-based Amerijet added former Delta Cargo head Neel Shah to its Board. The airline operates B767 freighters throughout Caribbean, Central America, Mexico and South America markets.