- Yesterday marked the first hearing in the lawsuit brought against pilots at Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, according to a union press release. The airline and its subsidiaries are accusing pilots of hampering business with deliberate slowdowns and sick calls.
- The pilots claim the airline is understaffed and underpaid. A recent effort to combine contract negotiations by the airline was rejected by the pilots as resulting in a substandard collective bargaining process.
- Medical experts and industry analysts have been called in to testify on the pilots' behalf. The trial is set to last through Thursday, November 2.
Atlas Air has recently signed contracts with industry bigwigs like FedEx and Amazon, although it claims its pilots are intentionally calling in sick and deliberately slowing down on the job to pressure the airline into improving contract terms. In 2016, Amazon took a stake in the airline.
This isn't the first time an airline has resorted to legal proceedings to force unhappy pilots and others into working under problematic circumstances. In November 2016, striking ABX pilots were ordered back to work and told to resolve their dispute under arbitration. Ultimately, the pilots won the right to replace unplanned flight scheduling with compensatory days off, thus ending their conflict with management.
In the case of Atlas Air, however, resolution may not be so easy, as a variety of issues have contributed to the case: too few pilots who claim they are underpaid and overworked. Given the high attrition rate among unhappy pilots, Atlas has a lot to lose if those remaining leave for positions at other airlines. Like all industries suffering from understaffing, it behooves airlines to treat staff well and fairly.