ATSG not expecting pilot talks to hold back Amazon business

01 / 03 / 2018

ATSG is not expecting ongoing pilot contract negotiations to hold back any potential future development of its Amazon business.

Speaking shortly after announcing its 2017 full-year results, the aircraft lessor said the lack of progress on a new agreement with pilots at its ABX business would not hold the company back.

It currently operates a fleet of 20 aircraft for e-commerce giant Amazon.

ATSG chief operating officer Rich Corrado said: "Labour stability is something that all of our customers want but at the same time they are growing and they have to get those needs filled and whether we have full agreements or not.

"I don't think it's going to hinder our ability to grow with Amazon. Obviously, our ability to grow with Amazon is going to be continuous on Amazon wanting to grow airplanes, and so we're looking forward to the next opportunity they may have in that perspective.

Meanwhile, ATSG president and chief executive Joe Hete added: "Pilot availability seems to be rearing it's head although we've had no problems attracting new pilots into the fold, in fact we've got more resumes than what we need to look at this point in time."

While ABX Air had failed to come to an agreement with its pilots, ATSG’s Air Transport International (ATI) subsidiary in the aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance (ACMI) leasing sector this month (February) reached a tentative agreement with the union representing its pilot group for amendments to their collective bargaining agreement that would extend the agreement for four years.

The tentative agreement is subject to ratification by the pilots, the voting for which is to be held by the end of March.

"Obviously with ATI having a tentative agreement and if that gets over the goal line that would be a positive," added Corrado.

In a release issued shortly after the company announced its results, unions insisted that the company was facing a pilot shortage.

Richard Ziebarth, ABX Air pilot and executive council chairman at Teamsters Local 1224 said: "Many of our veteran pilots – the bedrock of our operation – are nearing the end of their careers. Unfortunately, years of stalled, fractious contract negotiations have prevented ABX Air from achieving an updated, industry standard contract which greatly inhibits our Company’s ability to retain the new generation of pilots needed to build on our success."

Meanwhile, the company was also asked for its thoughts on DHL’s partnership with Amazon, both customers of ATSG, and how this could affect its own business.

Hete pointed out that DHL is carrying out sorting activities for Amazon at its Cincinnati hub.

“Since they are both growing that means they will need more aircraft in the future. If they work together, and since they are both good customers of ours and we are a significant service provider to both of them, their growth means a good opportunity for us.”

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