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SEATTLE: May 22, 2019. The Amazon annual shareholders meeting this week not only rejected an overture from employees for the company to be more proactive in the face of a growing climate crisis, it also ignored a petition from pilots flying for Amazon Prime Air for better working conditions and a standard contract.

Last month the company reported a 17 percent increase in net sales for Q1 2019 to US$59.7 billion; operating income rose from US$1.9 billion to US$4.4 billion; and net income grew from US$1.6 billion to US$3.6 billion year-on-year.

The pilots who fly for Amazon contract carriers Atlas Air, Southern Air and ABX Air claim their working conditions are becoming a safety risk as they are asked to fly last-minute flights around the globe. And a recent survey conducted by the pilots’ union found that more than 65 percent of respondents have been asked to fly on their days off in the last year.

Prime Air B767The survey also suggests “more than 60 percent” of participants are looking for work at UPS and FedEx and 65 percent of Atlas Air and ABX Air respondents said they have little faith that their carrier has enough pilots to meet the long-term needs of Amazon and its Amazon Air programme.

“Atlas Air pilots are proud to deliver for a customer as notable as Amazon. But our carrier’s executives are ignoring the reality of our workplace problems if they think we can meet the needs of these expanding business partnerships while hundreds of pilots leave for better opportunities,” said Captain Robert Kirchner, Atlas Air pilot and Executive Council chairman for Atlas Air pilots of Teamsters Local 1224.

According to the union, at the end of 2018 there were 1,724 pilots at the carrier working under a seven year-old contract that they've been trying to re-negotiate for three years. Average pay for a B767 captain is a claimed 33 percent less than FedEx and UPS captains on average for flying the same plane once reaching the maximum years of experience.

“Pilots at Atlas Air are overworked, underpaid and disrespected. Our planes are not adequately staffed or maintained. The bottom line is right now the future is shaky and we’re misleading customers like Amazon. Atlas Air executives need to sit down and negotiate an industry standard contract with the pilots so we can follow through on our promises to customers,” Kirchner continued.

Responding to the Atlas pilots' union Bill Flynn, president and CEO Atlas Air Worldwide said: “We are proud of our strong and growing workforce of more than 2,000 pilots, and we are eager to pay them more and reach a new contract. These protest efforts are common tactics that are often used by unions to spread misinformation and gain leverage in contract negotiations. The fact is Atlas is committed to its pilots. We have an uncompromised commitment to the safety and well-being of our pilots – and our practices meet or exceed all regulatory requirements and industry standards. Together with our pilots, we are committed to the success of our customers, and have worked hard to earn a strong record of delivering trusted service. It’s time to put pilots first, ahead of protests, and get to a new contract.”

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