- A three-day hearing has been called to consider charges of "industrial disruption" by pilots at Atlas Air, The Loadstar reported. The hearing is set to begin on October 31.
- District of Columbia Judge Randall Moss announced the hearing date as Atlas pilots protested the carrier’s alleged “abusive corporate behavior” outside the Cargo Facts Symposium in Miami. The pilots are unhappy with the airlines' perpetual short staffing and heavy scheduling demands.
- The two groups — Atlas Air and Union Local 1224 (to which the pilots belong) — are disputing even the preliminary injunction and witness lists, with the union balking at Atlas Air's refusal to share information necessary to the case.
All links in the supply chain are impacted by worker shortages, and intentional stoppage adds a new layer of complexity.
Atlas Air has been a union hot spot for months. In May, at least 50 pilots protested Amazon's shareholders meeting when it was learned that Atlas had signed a delivery contract with the e-commerce leviathan. Concern over the airline's ability to keep pace with demand was high, given the extreme rate of attrition caused by what the Teamsters say is a pay rate 50 to 60% lower than the industry standard.
Yet Atlas strongly disagrees with the Teamsters' contentions. "While the union has claimed that disruptions in Atlas’ operations are being primarily caused by a pilot staffing shortage, among other things, that is not true," a company spokesperson told Supply Chain Dive.
"Our business has grown substantially over the past several years, during which we have created hundreds of new jobs. Since the end of 2013, Atlas has increased the number of its pilots by more than 600, or 68%. Atlas is, in fact, well-staffed to meet its customers’ requirements. Indeed, pilots are flying at lower levels of utilization than has historically been the case."
Worker shortages throughout the supply chain are an ongoing issue, not least within the air freight sector. Thanks to increased international e-commerce volume and expectations of quick shipping, air transport lines are understaffed and leaning heavily on already strained workers. And despite increased rates, most airlines have not invested in capacity, preferring instead to hedge their bets and watch the market. Yet should they become willing to hire, it may be necessary to consider a wider range of potential staff in order to fill open positions.