January 11, 2019
Dear Atlas Air and Southern Air Colleagues,
We just completed our first Check Airmen meeting of the year. Many of you often ask me “What went on?” so I wanted to send you all a summary. We had a full house, standing room only, with more than 225 in attendance. In addition to Check Airmen, we were pleased to have several colleagues from Safety and Ground Operations join us.
The meeting was kicked off with a business update from the Executive leadership, first with Bill Flynn, President and Chief Executive Officer, followed by Michael Steen, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, and then John Dietrich, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. Bill started the meeting by thanking every pilot for their significant contributions. In reviewing our Company’s core values, Bill emphasized that it takes a team to deliver superior results and he underscored the key role each crew member plays.
He reviewed some of our key accomplishments in 2018, including:
- Growing our operating fleet by 16 aircraft, enabling us to accommodate our customers’ needs, resulting in more promotional opportunities for our current pilots as well as more career opportunities for newly-hired pilots.
- Leveraging many strategic opportunities with our CMI business which provides growth and scale while flying our Customers’ assets.
- Securing the interim letter of agreement with Southern pilots to increase their compensation and benefits to match Atlas pilots.
Bill also discussed the Company’s strong trajectory heading into the new year. More details about the Company’s strategic framework for 2019 will be shared when 4Q results are released in late February. Michael then updated the team on business developments, including growth across all segments, ACMI/CMI, charter and dry leasing businesses. He also discussed the strong and growing relationships we have with core Customers such as Amazon, DHL and the U.S. Military. He reiterated how much our Customers appreciate your commitment to exceptional customer service, as well as the overall ability of our Company to consistently deliver for them safely, efficiently and effectively.
John also acknowledged the great success of 2018 and recognized crew members for their significant contributions. He reiterated the Company’s commitment to continuous improvement, and the effort placed on how we can do better both internally and externally. For crew members, John discussed the focus on improving some of the Quality of Life issues that are faced on the line. We appreciate the comments and FCRs many of you have provided as we work to continually improve daily operations for all pilots. You have shared very valuable feedback and we remain focused on doing better. Improvements include:
- Adding Flight Watch coordinators.
- Adding Duty Pilots to all shifts.
- Improving scheduled training and related processes.
- Enhancing Bid Line Award reliability.
- Improving hotel management.
The formal presentations were followed by a frank and comprehensive Question & Answer session. As always, Bill, John, Michael and myself appreciate your candid discussion, comments and feedback on all issues. In the two-hour session, many topics were covered – including safety, crew retention, customer relationships, and profitability – with most of the conversation focused on the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
One of the central themes from the Q&A is clear: We all want to reach a Joint Collective Bargaining Agreement (JCBA) that is competitive and recognizes your significant contributions to the Company. Bill reiterated that the Company wants to accomplish this on an expedited basis. To that end, we have expressed our strong desire to get back to the table and Union leaders have told us they agree. At the Union’s request, we proposed a Framework Agreement, which the Union recently returned with their comments and edits. Once the Framework Agreement is finalized, we will be back at the table, which is a necessary step in reaching a final agreement. We can make progress under the Framework Agreement, as we have in the past, while we wait, along with the Union, for a decision on the pending management grievance arbitration.
During the balance of the two-day meeting, we discussed other topics of importance regarding our training organization. The next Check Airmen meeting will be at the end of the summer in August. We look forward to another large turnout and continuing the robust dialogue on issues that are important to all of us. Thank you for your continued commitment to safety, security, and service excellence for all our Customers and each other.
Senior Vice President, Flight Operations