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Prime Air pilots picket Amazon board meeting in Seattle
Published:2017-5-25   Have been here 527   Source:泓威国际物流

[UPDATED] Pilots that fly for Amazon.com’s Prime Air picketed the e-commerce giant’s annual shareholders meeting, held today in Seattle. The pilots, who fly for Atlas Air World Wide (AAWW), picketed outside the venue to pressure Amazon leadership to reverse the high attrition rate that Atlas Communications Committee chairman Michael Griffith attributed to, “low wages and benefits.”

 “Right now, we find ourselves facing a historical pilot shortage,” Griffith said. Under current circumstances, he added, Prime Air will not be able to meet the growth targets that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has set.

AAWW pilots picketing outside of the Amazon shareholders meeting in Seattle

Griffith said that Atlas Air has lost about 100 pilots in 2017 alone. “Just in the month of April, they hired 30 and lost 23 of them,” he said.

AAWW’s manager of marketing and corporate communications, Elizabeth Roach, told Air Cargo World that while the carrier does not comment on any specific customer, “our business has grown substantially over the past several years, during which we have created hundreds of new jobs.  At the end of 2016, we employed over 1,700 pilots, an increase of almost 600 since the end of 2014.”

Roach also added that, “The pilot comments on employee churn have been part of an overall campaign from the pilots and their union to put public pressure on the company with respect to its next labor contract. In that regard, we remain committed to negotiating a competitive, single-collective-bargaining agreement in accordance with the terms of our existing labor agreements, which recognizes our pilots’ valued contributions.”

Amazon’s PR manager Jim Billimoria contacted Air Cargo World following the publication of this story, and added that “Questions about the working environment of our partners are best addressed by them. All of our delivery providers must abide by our Supplier Code of Conduct and we take seriously any allegation that a delivery provider is not meeting those requirements and expectations. That said, we are pleased with our partners’ performance and their continued ability to scale for our customers.”

The union’s allegations of poor remuneration and excessive overtime are made in the context of an overall dearth of pilots capable of operating larger commercial aircraft, such as the 767 freighters that Prime Air operates. The attrition that Griffith pointed to seems to be endemic to the industry, and carriers – specially U.S. based ones – are being forced to offer more incentives to attract pilots.

Local feeder services are the first to feel the pinch, with airlines such as Air Wisconsin guaranteeing between US$260,000 and $317,000 in total compensation over the first three years. A decade ago, pilots starting out on these junior routes flew for just over minimum wage.

“We want to work for Prime Air, and we want it to be successful,” Griffith said. “All it takes is a decent labor contract to get us up to industry scale, and they can grow exactly how they want.”


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