UPS pilots see COVID disruption potential

Independent Pilots Association has issued this statement:

The President of the union representing UPS airline pilots has said he agrees with UPS CEO Carol Tomé’s concern that a spike in COVID-19 cases among the pilots has the potential to disrupt the Company’s operations.

In comments made to investors yesterday, Tomé said that “there is a big watch out” with cases spiking that could lead to a disruption in UPS operations should the increase impact the Company’s pilots. “We’re just watching this very, very closely,” she added.

Robert Travis, a UPS A300 Captain and President of the Independent Pilots Association (“IPA”) wrote Tomé today (click here to read letter) confirming that the UPS pilot group is “indeed experiencing a significant increase in the number of pilots testing positive for the virus.”

Travis outlined three steps the IPA is recommending to avoid operational disruptions, and to enhance the health and safety of the pilot group.

In his letter, Travis called for greatly expanded pilot access to testing (both before and after flight assignments), greatly improved pilot contact tracing efforts by UPS, and called on UPS to come to the assistance of crewmembers testing positive for COVID abroad in order to expedite their safe return home via specialized medical evacuation flights, if necessary.

Travis said that the recommendations have been made to lower levels of UPS management, but that they “seem to be languishing under excessive study followed by inaction.”

Travis called on Tomé to personally intervene.

“UPS pilots daily move a significant portion of commerce on which the US and world economy depends,” wrote Travis. “When there is a vaccine, it will be those same pilots that form an important link in the logistical chain to deliver the vaccine. It is therefore critically important, as you (Tomé) implied yesterday, that the pilot group be kept safe and healthy,” Travis said.

The IPA is the collective bargaining unit representing the more than 3,000 professional pilots who fly for United Parcel Service, the world’s largest transportation company. The IPA is headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky.

COVID-19 cases in the United States – source: Johns Hopkins University (JHU):

UPS Airlines aircraft photo gallery: