(Adds DHL comment)
By Nick Carey
CHICAGO Nov 23 A U.S. federal judge on
Wednesday ordered striking pilots back to work immediately at
cargo airline ABX Air, whose major customers include DHL and
online retailer Amazon.com Inc.
ABX said in a statement it expects flights to resume
DHL said operations have resumed at the DHL Americas Hub
after its airline partner ended its work stoppage and pilots
have returned to work.
DHL expects its operations to start returning to normal
Thursday and all delayed shipments to be delivered by the
weekend, a spokeswoman said.
"Absent an injunction, ABX, its customers, and the public
will suffer immediate, irreparable harm. Imagine Christmas
without Amazon!" wrote Judge Timothy Black of the U.S. Court for
the Southern District of Ohio.
Friday marks the traditional start of the holiday shopping
season in the United States with the following week one the
busiest for online retailers.
The pilots, represented by the Teamsters union, walked off
the job early Tuesday over what they said were violations of the
collective bargaining agreement with the unit of Air Transport
Services Group Inc.
Judge Black said there was "no evidence" to support claims
by the Teamsters who represent ABX's pilots that the airline had
violated the terms of its collective bargaining agreement with
He ruled in granting a temporary restraining order that this
was a "minor dispute" and was thus subject to arbitration rather
than a matter for a federal court.
The union said on Tuesday that due to a pilot shortage, ABX
Air had asked them to work emergency hours over the last two
years, but then failed to grant them compensatory time off or
allow pilots to take earned vacations as per their contract.
"As professional pilots, we're committed to serving our
customers with integrity, and we simply want ABX executives to
treat us with the same respect," Rick Ziebarth, a pilot and
executive council chairman, Teamsters Local 1224, which
represents ABX pilots, said in a statement on Wednesday.
The work stoppage came at a critical time for the likes of
Amazon and Deutsche Post AG unit DHL, in the run up
to the U.S. holidays.
DHL had warned of delays to inbound and outbound shipments
to portions of the Americas through Thursday as a result of the
Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Cheeseman said, "We rebalanced
capacity across our network of carrier partners to ensure there
are no disruptions through the busy holiday weekend, and plan to
leave these adjustments in place."
Amazon has contracts with the major U.S. package delivery
companies United Parcel Service Inc and FedEx Corp
, giving it alternatives to ABX.
(Additional reporting by Ankit Ajmera and Sangameswaran S in
Bengaluru; Editing by Phil Berlowitz, Lisa Shumaker and