Air Transport Services Group today said that Judge Timothy S. Black of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio has ordered that the dispute between ABX Air and its pilots should be resolved through an arbitration process.
According to the Judge, this is a minor dispute under the Railway Labor Act and should be resolved through the grievance and arbitration process contained in the parties current labor agreement.
The pilots are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Airline Division; and the Airline Professionals Association of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 1224 (collectively, the “IBT”).
John Starkovich, President of ABX Air, said that the airline will continue discussions with IBT representatives about resolving differences over pilots’ ability to determine compensatory time for extra flying at premium pay levels, versus ABX Air’s need to adequately crew its freighter aircraft with pilots during the peak holiday period.
“We welcome the opportunity to work with the pilots’ union in ensuring that our pilots maintain scheduling flexibility while at the same time ensuring that ABX Air has sufficient flight crews available to meet the needs of its customers,” Starkovich said.
“I look forward to a prompt and fair resolution of these issues under our current labor agreement.”
ABX pilots and their union have been raising concerns about staffing issues at the carrier, saying ABX is denying pilots of earned vacation days and regularly calling pilots for emergency assignments, creating fatigue and strain.
Long-time ABX pilot Rick Ziebarth said:
“The judge’s decision confirms what ABX Air pilots already know and experience first-hand: ABX and its parent company ATSG are facing a major staffing crisis of their own making and have turned to baseless legal maneuvers rather than working with us to ensure we are adequately staffed to get the job done.
“ABX Air is constantly putting pilots in precarious positions where we are denied earned vacation days and called out on emergency assignments. In fact, in 2016 while averaging only 225 pilots, we have been scheduled to over 7000 emergency assignments on days we should have had off.
“We’re pleased with the judge’s decision and hope it will serve as a wake-up call for ABX and ATSG to stop avoiding their responsibilities to shareholders and clients like DHL and Amazon and work with us to make sure our airline is properly-staffed so we can deliver for our customers.”
Air Transport Services Group, through its leasing and airline subsidiaries, is the world’s largest owner and operator of converted Boeing 767 freighter aircraft.
Through its principal subsidiaries, including two airlines with separate and distinct U.S. FAA Part 121 Air Carrier certificates, ATSG provides aircraft leasing, air cargo lift, aircraft maintenance services and airport ground services.
ATSG’s subsidiaries include ABX Air, Airborne Global Solutions, Air Transport International, Cargo Aircraft Management and Airborne Maintenance and Engineering Services.