The Truth about Prime Air…

Amazon just launched its own airline shipping service, Prime Air, but without the staff or expertise to run its own airline, the company is relying on third-party contracted cargo airlines for deliveries.

These contracted Prime Air airlines are facing significant operational disruptions. The airlines don’t have enough pilots to meet the demands of Amazon because their experienced pilots are leaving for better jobs at other airlines.

By working with airlines that keep losing pilots and have disruptions in service, Amazon is making a big bet that it can deliver its packages on time. At this rate, there may not be enough pilots to deliver for Amazon around the holidays.

What can you do to prevent this from happening? 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 that there are enough qualified pilots to get the job done.

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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.

  • Executives at the Prime Air contracted carriers (AAWW and ATSG) overcommitted their operations by taking on Amazon’s business. They took on the work despite known staffing problems, and the problems are getting worse.

  • ABX Air – a subsidiary of ATSG – for example, is forcing pilots to continuously work during their time off due to company mismanagement. Pilots are stretched thin and regularly missing birthdays, anniversaries, funerals and other important family events. Pilot morale is low.

  • Citing concerns about short-staffing and their ability to meet customer demand, 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.

  • 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