Below-industry standard contracts at the carriers have led to low pay, poor morale, and alarming attrition and retention issues. Company mismanagement makes them worse, too.
Low pay and morale
According to a recent bombshell report from Business Insider, pilots who fly for Amazon Air are severely under-compensated. And pilots say that when compared to similar aircraft and operations at FedEx and UPS, total compensation packages at Atlas Air and ABX Air lag behind by 50-60%.
“The split in pay is so remarkable that even a first-year captain at FedEx earns more than a captain at Amazon Air who has been with the company for decades ($258 an hour at FedEx)”-Business Insider
Issues like this are ruining the workplace culture among our pilot groups. More than 75% of pilots at the three carriers who participated in an annual survey conducted by Teamsters Local 1224 strongly disagreed with the statement that morale is high at their carrier, and 80% said they would not recommend their carrier to a friend working in the industry.
Attrition and retention
According to data from our union, Teamsters Local 1224, in 2018 over 10% of the workforce for Atlas Air left the carrier. At ABX Air, over 15% of the workforce left the carrier in 2018.
The consistent turnover means our pilots are overworked and asked to fly on our days off. Many of our senior level pilots are leaving for new jobs without seniority. Meanwhile, entry level pilots view flying for Atlas Air, Southern Air, and ABX Air as springboards rather than career destinations. In a recent survey, more than 60% of pilots who responded revealed they are preparing to leave and are seeking work at competitors like UPS and FedEx.
“More than half of surveyed ABX Air pilots plan to retire in the next five years, and that should be a huge wake-up call for ATSG executives who’ve been tuned out for too long. A new contract is desperately needed to enable ABX Air to hire and retain the pilots needed for the future.” — Capt. Rick Ziebarth, ABX Air pilot and Executive Council Chairman of ABX Air Teamsters Local 1224.
As our carriers grow their businesses, there is widespread concern that we won’t be able to deliver for clients like Amazon Air and DHL. According to data from AAWW, the airline’s prolonged delays have increased by 70% since December 2016. Meanwhile, the union survey revealed that more than 65% of Atlas Air and ABX Air pilots who responded are concerned there are not enough pilots to meet the long-term needs of Amazon Air.
“At Atlas Air, we’re already experiencing delays and operational disruptions and are slow to roll-out Amazon Air planes because we don’t have the pilots.” — Capt. Robert Kirchner, Atlas Air pilot and Executive Council Chairman for Atlas Air pilots of Teamsters Local 1224.
In order to fill our customers’ needs, the companies ask pilots to fly last-minute flights around the globe; more than 65% of our pilots have been asked to fly on their off-days in the last year. We’re missing our children’s birthdays, anniversaries and graduations because of this mismanagement.