By Laura Stevens and Doug Cameron
Amazon.com Inc.’s newly established in-house transportation network is facing a rocky start to its all-important holiday season.
Pilots contracted to deliver Amazon packages began picketing Tuesday because of a longstanding labor dispute, a sign of further potential disruptions through the end of the year at one of Amazon’s two airline partners.
The pilots are employed by Air Transport Services Group Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202631986/composite ATSG +1.05% , which alongside Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings Inc. /zigman2/quotes/200338181/composite AAWW +0.38% , was hired by Amazon /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN -4.13% to fly its packages in 40 dedicated jets by the end of 2018. About 16 will be in operation by the end of the year, according to the companies.
But the contracts with Amazon, which is beginning to build its own transportation network through these kinds of partnerships, have added more flights and staffing needs at ATSG and Atlas. The increased demand is upsetting pilots as they try to agree on new labor contracts with management. In a complaint filed in federal court Tuesday, ABX Air Inc., a subsidiary of ATSG, said Christmas shopping and deliveries have already been disrupted and could worsen if the industrial action continues.
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