Atlas Air

Atlas Air (AA) and its pilots’ union have at last received an arbitrated labour agreement, five years after negotiations first began.

Few details of the new contract were made public, but it will begin in October and last for five years.

Both Atlas Air and Southern Air pilots will receive “higher pay and enhanced benefits as part of the overall competitive package”, said Atlas.

Any remaining terms and conditions “will be implemented in the coming months in collaboration with the union,” added Atlas.

“Once the new terms, conditions and timing of implementation are fully assessed, the company will provide an updated outlook.”

The union, represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, said it was reviewing the arbitrated decision. But pilots made clear on social media that they were still very unhappy with the way management had conducted the talks and its recourse to legal proceedings to force an arbitrated settlement.

“AA bosses made a determination to give the most important decisions tied to the future of the airline to an outsider. It will take time to review.”

The pilots claimed the contract had seen “five years of stalling, delays and record resignations”, adding: “The CEO has repeatedly promised to deliver a contract the pilots deserve. Pilots deserved [an] opportunity to vote on [the] contract, but this process denied that right.”

Pilots also noted: “Mandatory arbitration deprives workers of their rights. AA doesn’t bargain, it arbitrates … arbitration favours business.”

And they warned that the continuation of the “rapid turnover” of pilots could be setting up the airline “for another hull loss, God forbid”.

According to the union’s website, 335 pilots have resigned this year out of some 2,500. Nearly 70 left last month alone, while 25 are leaving this month and six are due to quit next month. The website does not reveal how many pilots have joined Atlas this year, however.

But pilots also warned that the strategy of forcing arbitration, rather than allowing pilots to negotiate their own contract, would see more leave.

“This forced contract guarantees that AA will be a place to train, not a place for a career.”

One pilot told The Loadstar earlier this year that a shortage of pilots had forced the airline to lower aircraft utilisation, with the resulting consequences for the carrier’s customers, but The Loadstar was unable to confirm this independently.

Atlas’s strategy for finalising its new Joint Collective Bargaining Agreement is said to be the brainchild of new CEO John Dietrich, while according to sources, chief commercial officer Michael Steen was said to be more sympathetic to the pilots – or rather was set against any possible disruption to Atlas’ commercial activities.

Mr Dietrich said: “At Atlas, our people are our greatest strength and our more than 2,500 pilots deserve this new agreement that provides them with significantly improved pay and benefits.

“Our pilots are the best in the business and fly an unrivalled fleet across our global network to serve our customers. With this new agreement in place, we look forward to continuing to grow our company and creating more opportunities for pilots to grow their careers.

“Our company has long prepared for this investment in our pilots and has factored these new terms and conditions into customer contract negotiations.”

AA management has been approached for further comment. A union trustee, in an exclusive interview with The Loadstar, responds to the “catastrophic” new contract here.

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