Prime Air, the air-freighter arm of online retail giant Amazon Inc, has warned that packages could be delayed due to harsh working conditions. November 1 through December 31 is normally Amazon's busiest delivery time, but deliveries have been slowed down exponentially by cargo pilots and airline unions.
According to ABC News, airline unions have reported that there aren't enough pilots to meet Amazon's high delivery demand, which is causing the possible delays. Not only are there not enough pilots, but union representatives are claiming that shipping and flying professionals are working longer hours and have less down time in between flights, which is hurting the morale of the crew.
The 2016 holiday season is the first time Amazon has had a chance to try out Prime Air. The system, which follows Amazon's promise of two-day delivery with Amazon Prime, was born out of a need to increase deliveries to keep up with millions of items bought on Amazon around the holidays.
Prime Air is a collaboration between Amazon and Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings and Air Transport Services Group (ATSG). Amazon has leased 20 planes to ensure a smooth delivery process for the holidays, but now their strategy has backfired.
The Airline Professionals Association union, Teamsters Local 1224, has alerted Amazon executives to their complaints, the Seattle Times reports. The union has also initiated ad campaigns on Facebook and Google to warn customers about the possible delays and educate them about their harsh working conditions. Although people may be upset their deliveries are delayed before the holidays, the union is taking proactive steps to mitigate consumer fallout.
Air travel employees have even begun using Amazon's star rating system to air their grievances against the online retail giant. Union members have rated their contract "one star" because there appears to be no industry standard in place to regulate their work hours or environment. The lack of an affirmative union contract could be what's causing pilots and shipping personnel to be understaffed and face long hours.
Pilots are warning of late delivery issues now, but this isn't Amazon's first problem with their Prime Air service. In November, ABX Air employees walked off the job in protest of Amazon and Prime Air's unreasonable working conditions. Although ABX Air employees went on strike, a judge ordered them back to work, highlighting the importance of deliveries for the holidays. "Imagine Christmas without Amazon," the judge said in his ruling.
Airline union representatives are warning that there may not be enough pilots to deliver for Amazon around the holidays, but Amazon is disputing the claim. The company released an official statement saying there would be, "No disruptions through the busy holiday season." With less than a week before Christmas, people are scrambling to buy their last minute gifts before the holiday arrives.
Although Amazon Prime guarantees two-day delivery to its customers, Time reports that at least 10 percent of Amazon Prime customers don't receive their package on the expected day. Although this certainly doesn't harm the Amazon's popularity, it does put a dent in the costly Amazon Prime delivery option which charges customers almost 100 dollars a year.
Luckily, even if an Amazon Prime package is delivered late, there is a way to benefit from the broken guarantee. According to the Amazon Prime contract, if a package is delivered later than the expected delivery date, the customer is eligible to receive a free month of Amazon Prime for the inconvenience.
According to Amazon spokesperson Julie Law, "If for some reason our delivery promise hasn't been met, customers can call or e-mail and we can extend them an extra month of Prime membership, but we don't allow people to abuse that."
Amazon has maintained that they will not face significant delays for the holiday season, despite what pilots and flight personnel claim.
[Featured Image by Reed Saxon/AP Images]