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Pilots ratify 4-year labor deal at Amazon cargo carrier Sun Country

Airline is best known for flying to sunny vacation destinations

Prime Air Boeing 737-800 (twin-jet) (B738) Tail Number N8011A

Pilots for Amazon transport provider Sun Country Airlines have easily ratified a new four-year contract, the union representing them said Tuesday.

According to the Air Line Pilots Association, 93% of the eligible pilots participating voted to ratify the agreement, which brings their pay rates, retirement contributions, commuter policies and work rules in line with those of industry peers. 

Sun Country (NASDAQ: SCNY) is a leisure airline based in Minneapolis that added a cargo division and began flying Boeing 737-800 cargo jets for Amazon Air (NASDAQ: AMZN) in May 2020 to diversify its revenue stream. It currently operates 12 aircraft for Amazon. During the third quarter of 2021, cargo revenue was $24 million, a 10% increase versus the second quarter and 71% higher than the same period in 2020.

The Amazon business was a key factor in Sun Country’s ability to keep from furloughing pilots during the COVID-19 pandemic when most airlines cut staff.

“We are proud of this contract that reflects the work we’ve done and contributions we’ve made to help the airline grow,” said Capt. Brian Lethert, chairman of ALPA’s Sun Country Master Executive Council. “We are committed to helping the company continue growing and achieving its objectives through this modern contract, which will ensure the airline is able to retain and attract pilots.”

The union and company reached the agreement in seven months, which is relatively short by industry standards and in comparison to the six years it took Atlas Air (NASDAQ: AAWW), another Amazon contractor, to conclude a pilot deal in September. The quick resolution of talks is certain to please Amazon, which abhors uncertainty and the possibility of unhappy pilots creating operational inefficiencies by working minimum hours or calling in sick.

Earlier this year, Kalitta reached a pilot agreement after one year of negotiations.

The fact that Sun Country CEO Jude Bricker was quoted in the ALPA news release about the contract shows that relations between the union and Sun Country are on good terms.

“This agreement represents a milestone for both Sun Country and our pilots. It provides our highly skilled pilot group with competitive wages and benefits and enables Sun Country’s significant future growth plans,” said Bricker. “I want to congratulate both bargaining teams for having the dedication to reach an agreement in record time.”

Click here for more FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.


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Eric Kulisch

Eric is the Supply Chain and Air Cargo Editor at FreightWaves. An award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering the logistics sector, Eric spent nearly two years as the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Automotive News, where he focused on regulatory and policy issues surrounding autonomous vehicles, mobility, fuel economy and safety. He has won two regional Gold Medals from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government coverage and news analysis, and was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. As associate editor at American Shipper Magazine for more than a decade, he wrote about trade, freight transportation and supply chains. Eric is based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached for comments and tips at [email protected]