The Truth about Prime Air…

Amazon has launched its own airline shipping service, Prime Air, and the company is relying on third-party contracted cargo airlines for deliveries.

These contracted Prime Air airlines are facing significant challenges. Years of substandard pay and working conditions have led many veteran pilots to leave these airlines for better jobs, creating serious problems for these companies as they ramp up their business with Amazon.

By working with airlines that are struggling, Amazon is making a big bet on the future of its air delivery service. But without pilots, the success of Prime Air is at stake.

What can you do to get Prime Air back on track?  Give one star for Amazon Prime Air and tell Amazon executives to make sure its contracted pilots have a fair contract to ensure stability and keep the Prime Air operation humming.

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The Facts
  • Prime Air will operate with 40 planes leased from subsidiaries of Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings (AAWW) and Air Transport Services, Group, Inc. (ATSG).1 The new shipping service means that Amazon is using big shipping companies like FedEx and UPS less and less.

  • Instead of working with pilots, executives at the Prime Air contracted carriers (AAWW and ATSG) are ignoring the serious challenges that could jeopardize their ability to handle Amazon’s business. They are taking on the work despite known staffing, attrition and retention problems, and these issues will only get worse.

  • Citing contract violations and forced overtime due to short-staffing, 250 ATSG pilots went on strike in November. More than 75 flights were grounded, creating what Fox Business called a “rocky start” for Prime Air.

  • Many pilots flying for the Prime Air contracted carriers are looking for new jobs. A recent survey of Atlas pilots showed that 65% of respondents are planning to leave for another airline, and the company has experienced record pilot losses so far this year.

  • Recruiting and retaining pilots is extremely difficult because there is an industry-wide pilot shortage and other airlines are offering vastly better compensation and working conditions than Atlas and ATSG.3 At Atlas Air, pilots fly as many as 20 days a month around the globe, pulling them away from their families and loved ones.   

  • With Amazon facing what Quartz described as “bad news for the cutthroat world of e-commerce,” pilots sounded the alarm on the growing risks for the Prime business at Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting in Seattle and called on the company and its contracted carries to work with pilots on solutions.