Amazon pilots step up campaign with video

A union of air cargo pilots instrumental to Amazon shipping is stepping up a campaign against its contracts and working conditions as the Christmas shopping season draws to a close.

Pilots who fly for Amazon’s Prime Air unveiled a video Tuesday targeting what it calls “the intensifying staffing and operational issues at their airlines and the grueling conditions faced by pilots at Amazon’s network of contracted cargo carriers.”

Ads with the video are slated to run on Facebook and Instagram starting Tuesday, linked to a website called “”

Some of the pilots fly to and from Wilmington Air Park for ABX Air Inc, a subsidiary of ATSG, both based in Wilmington.

“Families nationwide are counting on Amazon Prime this holiday season, and as pilots on the frontlines, we think our customers deserve to know the full story about Prime Air,” Capt. Robert Kirchner, executive council chairman at Teamsters Local 1224 and a pilot at Prime Air contractor Atlas Air, said in a statement.

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“Years of substandard pay and working conditions at Amazon Prime Air’s contractors are prompting our veteran pilots to leave in droves, and our operation is stretched so thin that some of us spend as many as 20 days a month away from our loved ones,” Kirchner said.

The pilots fly for Amazon’s Prime Air via contracts with Atlas Air, Inc. and ABX Air Inc, a subsidiary of ATSG. Atlas Air and ABX are contracted to operate 40 planes for Amazon Prime Air by 2018, the union, the Airline Professionals Association, said in a release Tuesday.

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The pilots were planning protests outside Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle, as well as the U.S. headquarters of DHL Express in Plantation, Fla.

“At ATSG’s ABX Air, where contract violations and chronic under-staffing led pilots to go on strike at the start of the holiday season last year, 20 percent of new pilot hires have resigned since May 2016,” the union said in its statement.

A message seeking was sent to Amazon.

A spokesman for ATSG said the union’s charges have no basis.

“As far as ATSG's two airlines, ABX Air and ATI, are concerned, our airlines are currently at their target staffing levels, having hired crews for all of the aircraft to which they are committed under their contracts,” spokesman Paul Cunningham said in an email. “They are not experiencing a pilot shortage. In fact, our airlines haven't experienced any delays due to staffing issues in 2017.”

ABX Air crew members average just under 15 flight duty days per month, while ATI crew members are averaging 16 flight duty days per month, Cunningham added.

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The union noted that Amazon has announced that it will build a $1.5 billion hub at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport and will partner with German shipping giant Deutsche Post DHL at the same airport.

“The company has also secured warrants to purchase substantial equity in AAWW and ATSG, driving speculation among some analysts that the tech giant may consider acquiring its cargo contractors in the future,” the Teamsters said.

The union's video can be seen here.

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