Pilot Dissatisfaction Threatens Viability Of Airline.
According to a recent pilot survey, the management of Kalitta Air, LLC, the Ypsilanti, Mich.- based cargo airline, is in danger of losing the confidence of its pilot group.
Kalitta Air operates a fleet of Boeing 747 aircraft in support of the global network of DHL Express, a division of the German logistics company, Deutsche Post DHL. The pilots are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Airline Division, Airline Professionals Association Teamsters Local 1224.
The union conducted a survey to determine the pilots’ perspective of how they are treated by their management team and if the company is committed to making necessary improvements to pay, benefits and working conditions. Ninety-two percent of the union’s members responded to the survey.
Pilot responses paint a dismal picture. According to the survey, nearly 90 percent of pilots said they would not recommend Kalitta Air to other pilots as a good place to build a career. Ninety-four percent say management does not respect their rights on the job. Ninety-five percent of pilots who responded do not believe that management provides them with accurate and trustworthy information. A mere 2 in 10 Kalitta pilots believe management treats them with the professional respect they deserve.
“These shocking survey results should serve as a wake-up call to Kalitta’s management, their customers, including DHL, and potential customers,” said Scott Nelson, the elected chairman of the APA Teamsters Local 1224 Kalitta Air Executive Council. “At a time when pilots have many career options, drastic changes are necessary to save Kalitta Air. We’ve reached a point where management’s disregard for the rights and career aspirations of professional pilots is a threat to the viability of the airline itself. Our members have been pushed to the breaking point. It’s a very bad situation for any airline to find itself in and it’s not sustainable.”
Contract negotiations between the union and management started in October of 2010. The company delayed responding to union wage and benefit proposals for more than two-and-half years. Under management’s last compensation and benefit proposal, some pilots would take a pay cut even though Kalitta pilots are already paid less than their peers who fly the same aircraft types for competing airlines. Kalitta has also refused to agree to industry-standard working conditions, such as provisions for crew members who are forced to fly into active war zones and locations where terrorist attacks are threatened.
Not surprisingly, less than five percent of pilots believe management wants to reach an agreement with the union on an improved labor contract. Eight in 10 pilots say they are more likely to leave the airline if a new contract does not meet their expectations.
“The survey results bring into clear focus the magnitude of the problems facing Kalitta Air,” said Captain Daniel Wells, President of Local 1224. “Fortunately, pilots are prepared to fight to save the airline and their careers from poor decisions by management. Ninety-six percent of our members at Kalitta say they are ready to engage in informational picketing and handbilling, among other lawful activities, to publicize the deteriorating situation with their employer. They have Local 1224’s complete support.”
Under the Railway Labor Act, informational picketing and handbilling, among other forms of publicity, may take place at a variety of locations, including where customers and potential customers maintain offices and conduct business. As negotiations continue under the supervision of the National Mediation Board, the union is preparing for events at customer and potential customer locations around the nation in an effort to truthfully inform the public about the labor dispute.
In December, 97 percent of the union’s membership voted to authorize a strike.
The Airline Professionals Association Teamsters Local 1224 is affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Airline Division and represents nearly 4,000 members among 11 air carriers that operate both passenger and cargo aircraft. Local 1224 is the certified bargaining representative of all flight crew members employed by ABX Air, Inc., Allegiant Air, Atlas Air, Inc., Brendan Airways, LLC, Horizon Air Industries, Inc., Hyannis Air Services, Inc., Kalitta Air, LLC, Kalitta Charters II, LLC, Miami Air International, Omni Air International, Silver Airways Corporation, and Southern Air, Inc.