We who live in Seattle became used to seeing uniformed pilots picketing Amazon’s headquarters. They carried signs with slogans based on the theme that delivery of merchandise ordered from the internet giant was being compromised by the refusal of the airlines that fly for Amazon to offer fair contracts to their pilots.
For their part, the parent companies of the airlines in question maintained that they were in good faith negotiations with the pilots’ unions, and that even strong peak season demand would not cause any delivery problems.
But since the beginning of this year, the pickets have disappeared, the volume of the rhetoric has fallen, and this week, Air Transport Services Group, parent of the airline Air Transport International (ATI) released the news that ATI had signed a tentative agreement with the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) to “amend the collective bargaining agreement with its pilots group, currently numbering more than 220 flight crew members.”
Does this mean labor peace is about to break out in the Amazon Air network? Not necessarily, because the pilots of the other two airlines that operate freighters for Amazon – ABX Air and Atlas Air – are represented by a different union (the International Brotherhood of Teamsters), and while ABX is a subsidiary of ATSG, Atlas Air is a subsidiary of Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings.
Still, if the ATI pilots ratify the agreement with any degree of enthusiasm when they vote on it in late March, it would send a strong signal that amended agreements with the ABX and Atlas Pilots were within reach.
How likely are the ATI pilots to vote in favor of the new agreement? We don’t know, but we can report that one of the investment houses that closely follows that air freight industry said it had received positive feedback from the pilots, and noted that it believed the union was generally pleased with the opportunity offered by the Amazon flying.