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Amazon Prime Air jet
Amazon’s first “Prime Air” cargo jet soars over Seafair. (Credit: Scott Eklund / Red Box Pictures)

Amazon.com is gearing up for its big holiday shopping season, but a pilot strike could bring some misery to the giant online retailer as it looks to ship goods across the globe. About 250 pilots for ABX Air on Tuesday walked off the job, citing ongoing staffing shortages.

ABX, a subsidiary of Air Transport Services Group, operates about 35 flights per day on behalf of Amazon, according to Business Insider.

ABX Air President John Starkovich said today that the company will seek a court order to “restore the status quo operating environment.”

Earlier this month, UPS aircraft maintenance workers authorized a strike over healthcare benefits.

Amazon has been expanding its air fleet, in partnership with companies like Air Transport Services Group and New York-based Atlas Air. At Seafair in Seattle in August, Amazon debuted a Boeing 767-300 painted with the company’s Prime Air branding, the first jet to be leased from and operated by Atlas Air. Amazon also holds options to buy stakes in both ATSG and Atlas Air, both of which plan to operate a fleet of 20 jets on behalf of Amazon over the next few years.

Here’s the full press release issued this morning by Air Transport Services Group:

Air Transport Services Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATSG) today said one of its two airline subsidiaries, ABX Air, Inc., is taking multiple steps to resolve and end an illegal work stoppage that began today by its pilots represented by the Airline Professionals Association of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 1224.

“We will seek a court order later today to restore the status quo operating environment, even as we continue discussions with union representatives about specific issues of concern,” ABX Air President John Starkovich said today. “We expect the court will uphold our position that the actions taken by the union to refuse work assignments is not legal, and the issues involved constitute a minor dispute to be resolved via arbitration under terms of our current labor agreements.”

At the same time, Starkovich said, “ABX Air is notifying its customers and other affected parties about temporary interruptions in ABX’s flight operations, allowing them to adjust their networks until pilots return to work and normal flight operations resume. We stand ready to assist our customers in any way we can to minimize any impact on their own operations during this critical holiday period.”

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