Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings faces “intensifying operational and staffing crises” resulting from “mismanagement”—not because of a pilot work slowdown—the union representing the cargo operator’s pilots said.

Following the release of Purchase, New York-based Atlas’s results for the third quarter, for which the company posted a net loss of $24.2 million, Atlas president and CEO Bill Flynn spent much of an earnings call with analysts harshly criticizing the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), which represents Atlas pilots. IBT has engaged in a “violation of the Railway Labor Act” to gain “unlawful leverage” in ongoing labor contract negotiations, Flynn alleged. Atlas subsidiaries Atlas Air and Polar Air Cargo have seen a “significant increase in sick and fatigue calls [by pilots] near the time of the departure,” he added.

Atlas is seeking a preliminary injunction in US federal court to compel the pilots to stop what Atlas is calling “illegal, intentional work slowdowns.” A court ruling is expected in November.

IBT Atlas executive council chairman Robert Kirchner responded to Flynn’s allegations by saying the company has grown too fast and cannot keep pace in terms of pilot hiring. It also is paying pilots too little, causing many Atlas pilots to depart the company, he said.

Atlas reported a 19.6% year-over-year increase in block hours flown in the third quarter. Last year, it acquired Southern Air Holdings and entered into a major wet-lease contract with Amazon, for which it is now operating 10 Boeing 767-300 freighters and plans to add 10 more by the end of 2018. It has also rapidly expanded in Asia, placing seven 747 freighters into wet-lease service for Asian carriers in the first nine months of 2017.

“The company’s mismanagement of its transformational change has strained our operation, maintenance and support functions and is undermining the airline’s safety and reliability, especially as we head into peak flying season,” Kirchner alleged. “We cannot properly do our jobs if the company does not work with pilots on solutions to these challenges.”

He added that the company will continue to face “unsurmountable staffing issues as pilots leave the airline for better paying jobs.”

Flynn said Atlas does have enough pilots and has hired extra pilots to counter the alleged work slowdowns. “Our total pilot workforce has grown significantly over the last several years,” he said.

In response to the work slowdown allegations, Kirchner has accused Atlas of “harassing pilots who are sick or fatigued” in an effort to try to maintain an “increasingly strained” operation.

The war of words between Flynn and IBT comes as the cargo operator reports a robust global air cargo environment and expects a strong 2017 peak season and continued growth in 2018.

Aaron Karp