Southern Air Pilots Ratify Letter of Agreement to Improve Pay, Standards



8-09-2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 9, 2018
CONTACT: Dean Pearce, dean.pearce@berlinrosen.com, (646) 992-8312

Southern Air Pilots Ratify Letter of Agreement to Improve Pay, Standards


Pilots welcome changes to current collective bargaining agreement but say hiring, workplace issues remain



(NATIONWIDE) -- Pilots who fly for Southern Air, a subsidiary of Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings (NASDAQ: AAWW), announced today they have ratified a Letter of Agreement (LOA) that is intended to improve working conditions, wages and benefits for the Southern pilots under their existing collective bargaining agreement. However, even with these improvements their collective bargaining agreement remains open and amendable—and has been so since November 6, 2016. Bargaining to amend the agreement will therefore continue. The pilots are represented by their union, the Airline Professionals Association, Teamsters Local 1224.

Southern Air pilots have been working under a contract that was forced upon them in 2012, while Southern was in bankruptcy. Since then, the airline—which flies exclusively for DHL—has been unable to adequately attract and retain a sufficient number of pilots to sustain its operations.

The LOA—which was voted on from July 25 to August 9 and ratified by the Southern Air membership by a 94.76% margin—will raise some standards at Southern Air to be on par with those of pilots at AAWW-owned Atlas Air, who are working under their own substandard, seven-year-old contract that was imposed on them by an arbitrator. The Atlas pilots, like their counterparts at Southern, remain locked in acrimonious negotiations with the companies. While the LOA is an improvement from the dismal wages and provisions imposed during Southern’s bankruptcy, pilots say it doesn’t go far enough and that implementation will be too slow—with some important scheduling improvements taking effect only after nine months.

“For too long, Southern Air pilots have been operating under one of the worst contracts in the industry,” said Captain Bryan Holmberg, a veteran pilot at Southern Air and the Southern Air Executive Council Chairman at APA Teamsters Local 1224. “While the Southern agreement no longer stands alone as the worst, we are on par with our Atlas brothers and sisters, joining them in what is now the low-bar agreement in the industry. The company still has a long way to go until it will be able to end the rapid turnover and have the capability to attract the new hire pilots we need to meet growing customer demands.”

Proof that there is still a long way to go can be seen at AAWW subsidiary Atlas Air. Pilots say that because of a lack of pilots, flights have been cancelled even though many pilots have been asked to fly on their off days, reaching a record 151 open time trips in the month of July on the B-747 fleet alone. Attracting and retaining pilots also continues to be a major issue; after Atlas hired 311 pilots in the first half of 2018, the airline only managed to grow by 160 pilots.

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