Member Log In

User name:


Register For Access

Password Reset



CONTACT: Desmond Lee, (646) 517-1826,



Citing low pay, grueling working conditions and a worsening situation at their carriers, U.S. pilots to call on President Trump to join them in standing up to Amazon

(WASHINGTON) – On Monday, pilots contracted to fly for Amazon will protest in front of the White House to call on President Trump, who has publicly criticized the company, to stand with them in defense of U.S. job standards that the e-retailer is undermining. The pilots say Amazon is using its growing influence and market power to drive down standards for U.S. pilots across the board in everything from pay and benefits to quality of life, fueling intensifying staffing and operational problems at their airlines. They also say the challenges at their carriers could lead to shipping delays and other disruptions for Prime members.

“U.S. cargo pilots are critical to our economy and the rise of e-commerce, but the standards that have made our piloting community the envy of the world are under siege from companies like Amazon driving a race to the bottom,” said Captain Robert Kircher, a veteran pilot at Amazon Air-contracted Atlas Air and Executive Council Chairman at APA Teamsters Local 1224. “President Trump has stood up to Amazon before, and we hope he will join us in standing up to the e-commerce giant now in telling Mr. Bezos it’s time to support good jobs in the U.S. airline industry.”

The pilots fly for Amazon through the company’s contracts with carriers owned by Atlas Worldwide Holdings (NASDAQ: AAWW) and Air Transport Services Group (NASDAQ: ATSG). AAWW and ATSG are contracted to fly 40 planes for Amazon Air – the company’s new air delivery service – by the end of 2018, though full implementation of this partnership has been slow to manifest in part because of avoidable challenges facing the airlines. These carriers face severe pilot attrition, recruiting and retention problems, driven by low wages and grueling working conditions that have threatened their ability to deliver for Amazon and other big customers like DHL and thrive in a demanding pilot labor market.

The pilots recently protested at Amazon’s shareholder meeting and released a video detailing the critical role cargo airlines play in supporting the company’s logistics network. The video highlights how the intensifying staffing problems at the Amazon Air-contracted carriers could spell trouble for the company and Prime customers. In addition to protesting at the White House, the pilots will run digital advertisements in Washington, DC featuring the video and calling on the president to stand with them on Google and Facebook. The ads will link back to the pilots’ informational website, Last year, pilots also sent a letter to President Trump calling on his support and are ramping up their efforts as the situation at their airlines continues to deteriorate.

The pilots are also raising concerns about the persistent influence of German shipping giant DHL and its effects on U.S. job standards. The pilots say the foreign company is skirting U.S. law with its complex web of ties to U.S.-based cargo carriers and using its size and market power to pressure airlines into providing service at rock-bottom rates, thereby undercutting standards for U.S. pilots.

WHAT: Pilots contracted to fly for Amazon to protest at White House calling on President Trump to protect U.S. job standards

WHEN: Monday, June 11; 10 AM - 12 PM

WHERE: Lafayette Square (in front of the White House) - Pennsylvania Ave NW & 16th ST NW


Amazon has signaled an increased investment in creating and growing its logistics and air delivery operation. The e-retailer broke out revenues for its logistics operations for the first time in the first quarter of 2017, and in 2017, the company announced that it will construct a $1.5 billion hub at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport (CVG) and will partner with German shipping giant Deutsche Post DHL to leverage the shipper’s existing resources at CVG. The company has also secured warrants to purchase substantial equity in AAWW and ATSG, driving speculation among some analysts that the tech giant may consider acquiring its cargo contractors in the future.

Yet the pilots say Amazon’s growing influence and the pressure felt by their airlines to meet the e-commerce giant’s expanding demands have undermined standards, leading to worsening operational and staffing risks that could undermine their ability to deliver.

At AAWW’s Atlas Air, staffing, attrition and recruitment issues have been exacerbated because of chronic mismanagement and long-standing substandard pilot contracts. Management is undercutting industry-wide standards in everything from pay and wages to working conditions, eroding pilot morale and undermining the company’s ability to attract and retain pilots. The company is losing approximately 200 pilots a year, a trend expected to intensify as pilot retirements accelerate into 2023. Atlas executives have also consistently refused to follow the Framework Agreement governing contract negotiations, leaving no viable path forward to address the company’s staffing woes.

These issues have already manifested in delays and urgent recruitment issues. Recently an Atlas flight in Anchorage, Alaska was delayed by more than 12 hours due to a lack of available crew, while less than 50 percent of those slated to attend the company’s two most recent pilot hiring classes showed up.

At ATSG’s ABX Air, where contract violations and chronic understaffing led pilots to go on strike at the start of the holiday season in 2016, more than 30 percent of new ABX pilots hired in the last two years have already left for other airlines, with 50 percent of the company’s current pilot roster expected to retire in the coming years.

At the same time, the pilots are also sounding the alarm on the influence of German shipping giant DHL in lowering standards for U.S. cargo pilots across the board. The pilots point to the company’s complex web of ties to U.S.-based cargo carriers, which they say allows DHL to skirt U.S. law mandating that cargo carriers show U.S. citizenship of company owners and operations. The Department of Transportation ensures that no more than 49 percent of an airline’s ownership can come from a foreign entity. DHL already holds a 49 percent stake in one of its contractors, AAWW’s Polar Air, which flies exclusively for DHL. AAWW’s Southern Air also operates exclusively for DHL, while the German shipping giant owns and leases back the aircraft that Southern pilots fly. Close to 50 percent of Atlas’ flying is for DHL. At ABX Air, DHL flying exceeds 50 percent of its operations.


The Airline Professionals Association, Teamsters Local 1224 represents pilots and flight crewmembers from 10 airlines operating across the country.