Atlas Air and Polar Air Cargo pilots reiterate concerns after court ruling

posted on 10th July 2019 by Justin Burns

Atlas Air and Polar Air Cargo pilots have reiterated their concerns regarding Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings’ (AAWW) “operational and staffing problems” and promise to petition for a rehearing – in the wake of the a ruling this week by the U.S. Court of Appeals.

The court affirmed a federal district court ruling that ordered the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Airline Division, and Local Union No. 1224 (IBT) to stop an “intentional and illegal work slowdown” by Atlas pilots in violation of the Railway Labor Act (RLA).

The original lawsuit was filed in September 2017 by Atlas Air and Polar Air Cargo and alleged the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Airline Professionals Association, Teamsters Local 1224 – which represents the airlines’ pilots – were responsible for both the companies’ scheduling failures and the growing scrutiny.

After reviewing the decision in detail, pilots and officials from the Airline Pilots Association, Teamsters Local 1224 issued the following statements in response.

“We disagree with the court’s decision and plan to promptly petition for a rehearing,” said Capt. Daniel Wells, Atlas Air pilot and president of Teamsters Local 1224. “AAWW brought this suit originally to deflect attention and blame away from its incompetent management of the airline and the supposed merger between Southern and Atlas Air pilots – which is the real cause of the operational failures seen by our customers.

“It’s unfortunate that AAWW is spending its time suing its employees instead of working with them to improve conditions so we attract the skilled talent we need to sustain our operation and deliver for clients into the future.

“Our pilot group has been speaking out against the company’s heavy-handed and outdated practices because we know that chronic mismanagement, a pilot shortage, and poor working conditions are what’s threatening our long-term operation and will continue doing everything we can to get Atlas back on track.”

“We are both surprised and deeply disappointed by the court’s decision,” said Edward Gleason, general counsel at APA Teamsters Local 1224. “The court has affirmed a status quo injunction without ever identifying status quo is that the union is said to have violated.

“That is the same fundamental mistake that the district court made, and it is one that we believe warrants reconsideration and reversal by the court.  We therefore fully anticipate filing a petition for rehearing along with a petition for rehearing en banc.”