Nathan Coats

Pilots have reported that Amazon and Atlas Air have ended their CMI contract. 

Next month, Atlas will reportedly begin phasing-out flying its 17 767-300Fs for Amazon, to cease entirely by June next year, while the eight 737-800Fs will be phased out between March and June 2025. 

According to pilots at a ‘town hall’ meeting this week, the 767s will go to new customers in South America and Pan Pacific – Hong Kong, South-east Asia and Australia.  

The pilots said no furloughs had been announced, and claimed some 760 crew could be impacted – although Atlas has said it was fewer. Meanwhile, Atlas is expected to take delivery of eight widebody aircraft this year, 777s and 747s, requiring 240 crew.  

One pilot on a forum believed it was the right thing to do. 

The Amazon flying is quite a few airframes, but the utilisation has been woefully low, and the staffing levels Amazon required had been ridiculously high.  

“It’s no secret we have been losing a lot of money every year from that flying, so getting rid of it is a good decision.”

Another pilot said: “Personally, I think it’s all going to be fine. It’ll take a combination of more new airplanes, attrition even, if it’s slightly reduced than years past, and maybe some creative stuff, like offering reduced flying lines.  

“Considering Atlas has been consistently limited by pilot hiring/retention, it will be interesting to see what the company can do with a bunch of available pilots in one hand and a near-unlimited amount of money [from owner Apollo] to buy aircraft in the other.” 

One issue for the pilots is the quality of life they had from the Amazon regional contracts. 

“It sucks for the guys who live in CVG (Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky) and enjoy the crazy quality of life those fleets have provided, but for the company, this is a very good move,” said another pilot. 

While Atlas CEO Michael Steen has apparently promised to retain pilots, and work with the union to ensure collective bargaining agreement (CBA) compliance, the future for many is “undetermined”. 

One pilot noted: “There is a displacement process defined in the CBA. Hopefully, retirements and resignations will capture most of the excess. Definitely a hiring slowdown should be expected.” 

Pilots indicated that the new eight widebody aircraft arriving this year would replace the majority of block hours lost from the Amazon contract. 

“We will be heavy on pilots for a while, but natural attrition will take care of that,” said one pilot.

Earlier this month it was confirmed that ATSG, under its ABX Air brand, would add 10 767-300Fs to its fleet on a CMI basis, as part of an expanded five-year agreement with Amazon – so far ABX has only flown 767-200Fs for the retailer. 

Pilot speculation around the fate of the Atlas Amazon fleet focused on aircraft going to ABX Air, Alaska, Sun Country or Mesa. 

Amazon has been struggling to compete with lower-cost ecommerce outfits, such as Shein and Temu, but is also fighting traditional retailers, such as Walmart, and has been shifting its strategy. 

Atlas Air, its pilots union, and Amazon have been approached for comment. 

However, an Atlas Air representative told The Loadstar the company is currently in its quiet period in advance of its quarterly earnings release to lenders and bond holders, and would not be able to comment until this had taken place tomorrow.

Atlas began flying for Amazon in 2016, with 10-year dry lease contracts for 20 767-300Fs, and a CMI contract of seven years.

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