WASHINGTON, Oct. 3, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In response to a lawsuit that Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings (NASDAQ: AAWW) and its subsidiaries, Atlas Air and Polar Air Cargo, filed against its pilots' union, pilots are reiterating their concerns about the intensifying staffing crisis that is driving operational challenges at AAWW's airlines. An initial status conference on the lawsuit was held on September 29th before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The judge has scheduled the case for trial on October 31st in Washington D.C.
After reviewing the filing in detail, pilots and officials from APA Teamsters Local 1224, which represents pilots at Atlas and Polar, are issuing the following statements:
"The operation at Atlas is falling apart because of chronic mismanagement, a shortage of pilots, and a lack of other key operational personnel," says Capt. Robert Kirchner, a long-time Atlas pilot and Executive Council Chairman of Teamsters Local 1224. "We have seen this coming for years and have tried to work with Atlas' management to address the problem. Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg as the company not only grapples with finding enough pilots for its current operations, but must also deal with how to staff any expansion of its business. This lawsuit is nothing more than a blatant attempt by Atlas to pass blame and distract customers' attention from operational failings. This lawsuit is a shocking misuse of shareholder dollars that gets us no closer to being able to deliver for our customers."
"AAWW and its affiliates are using phony excuses to disguise their chaotic mismanagement and inability to appropriately staff its operations after having expanded those operations too far and too fast," said Capt. Daniel Wells, President of Teamsters Local 1224. "This has put great stress on our members, and the company is once again undermining the career security of its pilots through yet another lawsuit aimed at forcing them into a substandard contract."
Mr. Wells continued, saying: "Our members are professionals. Pilots do not need the union to tell them how to perform or when their company is abusing them. Pilots recognize abusive corporate behavior when they see it and they fell it and they simply will not fall victim to those abuses and jeopardize their safety and that of their families and the public. Increasingly, they are leaving the company -- but while here, a crewmember surely will not risk safety or his or her career on behalf of a company that refuses to be up front about its failing operations and that has shown no ability to fix the problems it has brought upon itself."
"Our counsel will vigorously defend us against the company's spurious charges," said Mr. Wells. "Despite assurances to the court they would be transparent about their allegations, the company's counsel today denied a request for access to the data surrounding their accusations, which calls into question the veracity of their claims. We will develop our defense only after we see that data and subpoena their customers, such as DHL and Amazon, and company employees. Meanwhile, at a time when Atlas needs a team effort to dig themselves out of the hole they created, the company has further alienated its pilots and employees by blaming them for managements failures. This will in no way serve the interests of its customers."
On September 25th, Atlas Air, Inc. and Polar Air Cargo, two subsidiaries of Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings (NASDAQ: AAWW), filed a lawsuit against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and its affiliate APA Teamsters Local 1224, which represents the airlines' pilots, alleging they are responsible for both the companies' scheduling failures and the growing scrutiny the carriers have received from increasing their customers.
In February 2017, the company sued the union to try and force them into a process that would "amalgamate" the collective bargaining agreements of Atlas Air and sister company (also represented by the Teamsters) Southern Air. The union had rejected the company's plea as it would result in a CBA far below industry standards. That lawsuit continues in The United States District Court for Southern New York.
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SOURCE Teamsters Local Union 1224