FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 16, 2016

Anna Susman,, 646-200-5285
Desmond Lee,, 646-517-1826


New website and advertising campaign detail staffing problems that could affect holiday deliveries

Pilots From Amazon Contractors Atlas Air And ABX Air Say Their Airlines Refuse To Keep Up With Business Demands
(WILMINGTON, Ohio) – Frustrated that their airlines continue to ignore a staffing crisis that recently prompted 250 pilots to strike, pilots who fly for Amazon Prime Air are taking their concerns about short-staffing and contract delays directly to Amazon customers this holiday season. Pilots from Atlas Air and ABX Air – subsidiaries of Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings (AAWW) and Air Transport Services Group (ATSG), respectively – launched a website for Amazon customers which details the widespread staffing problems at their airlines and their serious concerns about being able to deliver for customers during the holiday season.

Both airlines are undercutting industry-wide standards in their contracts with pilots, creating turnover, recruitment and retention issues that compromise their ability to meet the demands of Amazon and DHL customers.

“Amazon customers shouldn’t have to worry if their gifts for their children and loved ones won’t make it in time for the holidays,” said Capt. Mike Griffith, an Atlas Air pilot. “But our airlines are avoiding the reality that they don’t have enough pilots to do the job, and it isn’t fair to our customers who might feel the effects this holiday season. We are taking our concerns directly to Prime customers.”

Advertisements linking to the website will run nationwide on Facebook and Google through the end of the year and target Amazon customers. Asking the question, “Can Amazon Deliver?” the website includes tools for customers to ask Amazon executives to make sure its contracted pilots have a fair contract to prevent turnover and make deliveries on time. Visit the site here:

AAWW and ATSG recently signed agreements with Amazon to fly 40 planes for Prime Air by 2018 and are already having trouble servicing the e-retailer due to understaffing.

ATSG is attempting to solve the problem by forcing pilots to continuously work during their time off, stretching them thin and forcing them to regularly miss birthdays, anniversaries, funerals and other important family events. Citing these issues, 250 ABX Air pilots went on strike at the end of November, grounding more than 75 flights and creating what Fox Business called a “rocky start” for Prime Air.

“It breaks my heart that I might have to tell my family that I can’t spend Christmas morning with them because I could be called in to work at the last minute -- all because of mismanagement at my airline,” said ABX Air pilot Rick Ziebarth. “As pilots, it’s a top priority to make sure our customers get their deliveries on time so they can enjoy the holidays with their loved ones. We are also moms and dads who want to give our own families holidays filled with joy, and it isn’t right that executives at Atlas Air and ABX Air are threatening that by refusing to staff their operations properly. ”

The same staffing problems are widespread at AAWW. Attrition data compiled by the pilots’ union shows that pilot turnover more than tripled over the last three years. In a recent survey of Atlas Air pilots, 65 percent of surveyed pilots said they are planning to apply to another airline in the coming year. Eighty-eight percent of respondents said their carrier does not have enough pilots to meet the long-term needs of Amazon and other major customer DHL.

The vast majority of pilots looking for other jobs, according to the survey, are looking at FedEx and UPS, major delivery companies that offer competitive benefit and pay packages, and that Amazon is relying on less and less with the Prime Air venture.

It is difficult to hire replacement pilots due to an industry-wide pilot shortage that has airlines of all types scrambling to recruit and retain skilled pilots. The pilot deficit will soar to 15,000 by 2026, according to the University of North Dakota's Aviation Department.

In addition to staffing issues, the threat of a strike continues to loom. Earlier this year, pilots at ABX Air and Atlas Air voted with 99 percent support to strike should it become necessary.

AAWW, which recently acquired another cargo airline Southern Air, is attempting to force Atlas and Southern pilots to merge the Atlas Air contract with Southern Air’s concessionary contract, a contract that was negotiated during bankruptcy and falls far below industry standards. According to a comparison study conducted by Teamsters Local 1224, AAWW pilots are paid considerably less and work much longer hours than pilots who fly for UPS or FedEx. Pilots at Atlas and Southern are forced to fly long hours with minimal rest time in between flights, leading to dangerous fatigue. AAWW has refused to bargain fairly with pilots, and the two parties recently entered federally mediated contract negotiations.

ABX pilots endured furloughs and wage and benefit concessions when DHL abruptly cut its operations in Wilmington, Ohio in 2009. Since then, ABX pilots have been working under the 2009 concessionary contract with ABX and have been negotiating for an amended contract for more than two years.

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