- In November 2016, ABX pilots for Amazon and DHL engaged in a strike for two days over the issue of forced overtime before being sent back to work via court order. Now, the airline — owned by Air Transport Services Group (ATSG), in which Amazon itself has a stake — has agreed to honor compensatory days off, the Aviation Tribune reported last week.
- The settlement, finalized last Wednesday, promises to allow pilots their earned vacation days beginning in March. Pilots have agreed to sacrifice their previously accrued days off.
- Ultimately, arbitration will rule on whether any additional restrictions can be placed on the pilots' rights to use their newly accumulated days off.
Labor issues are typically not at the top of a supply chain manager's mind, but recent threats of strikes at sea and air ports highlight the role organized and non-unionized labor still have to play in ensuring timely production and delivery.
The short-lived ABX pilot strike in November temporarily halted Amazon and DHL's fulfillment, and while the express logistics providers were able to adjust, it took a spotlight to a more pressing issue for the workers: a shortage of air pilots being employed to handle the increased volumes being demanded by the market.
Pilot shortages have increased since the recession in 2009, when a mere 30 pilots were hired by major airlines. Now, with retirements and business growth occurring simultaneously, airlines are working hard to avoid a shortage by hiring aggressively, as with FedEx's decision to add as many as 600 pilots starting last spring.
Commercial airlines planned to hire 3,000 to 4,000 pilots in 2016 alone, with major players including Delta, United and American looking to bring in approximately 750 to 1,000 each, as The Commercial Appeal reported. Industry experts are describing the need to hire as addressing a previously unseen shortage within the field.