Pilots' strike threatens to delay Amazon's holiday shipments

Around 250 pilots who fly cargo carriers, for ABX Air struck work last morning and have declined to fly any of their scheduled routes until they could come to an agreement with their employer.

ABX, owned by the Air Transport Services Group (ATSG), counts several cargo customers, with Amazon and DHL being its two largest. Now according to the pilots and the Airline Professionals Association, Teamsters Local 1224 union supporting them, Amazon's shipments could be impacted, leading to delivery delays for the e-retail giant's customers.

According to the pilots, the cargo carrier was flying 14 aircraft and 35 flights per day for Amazon, carrying the company's goods from one spot to another to facilitate shipments to customers. In a statement, the pilots said ''Amazon customers will also see delays and disruptions.'' DHL relied on Air Transport Services Group for 45 flights per day.

The row between the pilots and ABX was partly due  to what, according to the pilots, was a company that was ''significantly understaffed.'' They claim ABX Air and ATSG were violating their employment contract by forcing them to work ''emergency assignments'' when were not scheduled to fly, and not allowing them to take extra time off for their additional work.

Meanwhile, the retail industry was gearing up for its busiest period, with shoppers increasingly shopping from their phones and computers rather than brick and mortar outlets. Online spending in November and December would increase 11 per cent this year to $91.6 billion, according to an October forecast from Adobe Systems Inc.

''While they go through this court process, planes are not flying,'' said Satish Jindel, president of SJ Consulting Group,www.bloomberg.com reported. ''Obviously that is of concern to a company like DHL and Amazon.'' 

However, he said, Amazon could shift some volume to United Parcel Service Inc and FedEx Corp and could also find some smaller contract parcel shippers to move packages if needed.