After Amazon’s decision, 300 to lose jobs in Wilmington

Three hundred people will likely lose their jobs at Wilmington Air Park as a result of Amazon’s decision to build a global cargo hub at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, said Joe Hete, president and chief executive of Air Transport Services Group (ATSG), which is based at the Wilmington park.

“The sad fact is, probably 300 people are going to lose their jobs,” Hete said Wednesday.

The people who will lose their jobs work for LGSTX Services Inc., the ATSG logistics subsidiary.

“It’s unfortunate that once again we have to tell 300 people” that they will lose their jobs, Hete added.

RELATED: 5 things to know about Amazon Prime hub coming to Cincinnati over Wilmington

Hete doubted that the Teamsters’ November strike against ATSG had anything to do with Amazon’s decision. And he said Amazon’s decision won’t affect other ATSG operations in maintenance or other facets of the company’s business.

When one looks at the “magnitude” of the project Amazon is planning, Hete guesses that the company made its decision “well before the strike occurred.”

A message seeking comment was sent to an Amazon spokeswoman.

“As pilots, we take great pride in serving Amazon customers and are glad to see the company making strong investments in key markets, like Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky,” a statement from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters said Wednesday. “But now more than ever, we’re concerned about the ability of contracted carriers like … ATSG to meet Amazon’s growing demands.”

The Teamsters struck ATSG because, they said, of concerns about demands placed on cargo pilots forced to fly what they feel are excessive hours.

Gov. John Kasich said Amazon picked northern Kentucky over Wilmington in large part because the airport in Covington has plenty of capacity and the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky metro area has the workforce.

“They were very worried about the workforce,” he said at a conference sponsored by The Associated Press in Columbus on Wednesday.

He noted that his administration was heavily involved in wooing Amazon but in the end the state can’t dictate where a company locates.

“They’re still going to be here in our region,” Kasich said.

A message seeking comment was sent to an Amazon spokeswoman.

Hete said ATSG will still deliver planes to Amazon’s flight delivery arm, as first announced in 2016.

RELATED: Amazon deal helps Wilmington company's stock, fortunes take flight

Fifteen Boeing 767 freighter aircraft have been delivered, and the company has five yet to be delivered, Hete said.

“It doesn’t impact anything relative to the aircraft we are supposed to deliver to them and operate on their behalf,” he said.

RELATED: Pilot strike at Wilmington company could delay Amazon, DHL deliveries

ATSG’s long-term expectation was that even if Amazon had chosen to build a hub in Wilmington, “it would be an operation that they would end up running locally a good part of themselves,” Hete said.

DHL’s decision nine years ago to close its Wilmington hub ended up killing some 8,000 to 9,500 jobs in and around the Wilmington facility. The community is practiced in dealing with body blows, Hete said.

“Unfortunately, we are,” he said. “At least, with this particular incident, it’s not the amount of people we had to deal with in the last go-round.

“From the air park’s perspective, the port authority, the local community and ourselves, we’ll continue to look for possible users of the facility itself,” Hete said. “We’ll continue to run our maintenance operation here and everything else as before because the airplanes can go anywhere.”


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