© Pavel Nadelyayev

Atlas Air pilots have accused management of mis-characterising the nature of the talks between them to shareholders and investors.

In an earnings call last week, chief executive John Dietrich, architect of Atlas’s controversial labour relations strategy, told investors: “We’ve seen a lot of changes over the last number of months in the pilot situation.”

Claiming to “work closely with the union”, he said there had been “a lot of progress”.

The pilots, however, argue that management is creating “a false sense of security about the company’s long-term revenue and growth potential”.

“It is time for the people who own this company to focus on what’s going on behind closed doors,” said Robert Kirchner, the head of the International Aviation Professionals (IAP), Teamsters Local 2750, which represents the Atlas pilots.

“Shareholders should be very concerned. They should be asking themselves if there is a foundation for long-term stability in place. Today, the answer is clearly no.”

Last year the company was beset with service disruptions as pilots tried to make their voice heard, but Mr Kirchner said the Covid crisis had proved a windfall, making Atlas look “rosy on the outside”.

But, he added: “I urge shareholders to look inside the box.”

Mr Kirchner claims Atlas has no plan to settle the contract or even negotiate seriously. He warned that management could stall for another year, to “run out the clock on bargaining and force an arbitration”.

Last week private equity investor Greenlight Capital acquired a “large share” in Atlas, citing currently high air freight rates, a lack of capacity and “long-term contractual relationships serving DHL and Amazon”.

But last year Amazon chose to move part of its fleet from Atlas, opting instead for rival ATSG.

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