Appeals court rules for Atlas Air, Southern Air against pilot unions

Caryn Livingston

Atlas Air's 747Fs flying for Qantas will be upgraded from -400Fs to 747-8Fs. Photo: Atlas Air

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled in favor of Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings’ subsidiary carriers, Atlas Air and Southern Air, in the carriers’ dispute with the union representing its pilots.

The appeals court ruling follows earlier decisions by arbitrators also rendered in favor of the airlines, which found that the union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, must proceed with contractually required negotiations for a new joint collective bargaining agreement. The ruling in favor of Atlas Air on Aug. 27 required Teamsters Local 1224, the union representing Southern Air and Atlas Air pilots at the time, to submit an integrated seniority list of Atlas Air and Southern Air pilots to the company within 45 days. Since then, Atlas Air pilots have split from Teamsters 1224 to form their own local union, Teamsters Local 2750, representing about 2,000 pilots.

Unsurprisingly, union representatives are disappointed by Thursday’s appeals court ruling. However, in a statement to Air Cargo World, Teamsters Local 1224 President Tim Jewell said the union is “determined to ensure that the interests of the Southern Air pilot group are clearly represented.” A representative from the Atlas Air pilots union declined to comment on ongoing legal issues.

Meanwhile, Atlas leadership is hopeful that the discussion under a joint collective bargaining agreement can now move forward. Atlas Air Worldwide Chairman and CEO Bill Flynn said in a statement, “in ongoing negotiations, the union has yet to provide us with a comprehensive economic proposal covering pay and benefits for evaluation,” but that Atlas “remain[s] committed to working collaboratively with union leaders” to negotiate a new agreement.

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