Southern Air pilots reach tentative agreement with Atlas Worldwide

Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Inc. (AAWW), has reached an agreement between the union representing pilots who fly for subsidiary carrier, Southern Air, over “interim enhancements” to the pilots’ collective bargaining agreement.

According to AAWW, the interim agreement would “increase pay rates for Southern Air pilots to the same wage scales as provided to pilots of Atlas Air, Inc.” It also stipulates a ratification bonus and other terms and conditions that are comparable to those provided to their fellow pilots at Atlas Air.

Local 1224 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), the union representing the Southern Air pilots, described the interim agreement as “temporary relief for the pilots who were forced to negotiate their contract with Southern Air during bankruptcy.” Because of the bankruptcy, Southern Air — which flies exclusively for DHL – “has been unable to attract and retain pilots,” the union said.

“Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings is finally acknowledging the full-blown staffing crisis at Southern Air that we’ve been raising concerns about,” said Captain Bryan Holmberg, a Southern Air pilot and the carrier’s Executive Council Chairman at APA Teamsters Local 1224. “We want to better serve the airline and the many customers across the globe who rely on our work, but to do so we need to stop the rapid turnover and hire pilots to meet DHL’s ever-growing demands.”

Atlas Air President and Chief Operating Officer John W. Dietrich said the agreement “is the result of collaborative and productive discussions with the IBT leadership as we continue on our path toward the merger of Atlas Air and Southern Air and completing a joint collective bargaining agreement. We are grateful for the IBT’s hard work and commitment during the entire process.”

The agreement was hammered out “after two and a half years of stalled negotiations because of AAWW litigation,” according to the union. While the terms of the agreement makes Southern Air “on par” with Atlas Air, the union added that Atlas pilots are still “working under their own substandard, seven-year-old amalgamated contract.”

AAWW said the “expected financial and operating impacts of the tentative agreement” were incorporated in the company’s earnings growth framework announced on June 25. The company said it anticipates its full-year 2018 adjusted net income to grow by 35 to 40 percent, compared with 2017.

“We appreciate the professionalism and contributions of our Atlas Air and Southern Air crewmembers and the excellent service they provide every day,” Dietrich said. “And we remain committed to completing the bargaining process for a joint contract covering all of our pilots in a timely manner and in the best interests of all parties.”

The agreement is subject to ratification by the Southern Air pilots in a process that will take place between July 25 and Aug. 9, the union said.

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