UPS Airlines is at the vanguard of the USA’s fightback against Covid-19 as one of the freight airlines chosen for the huge logistical effort to distribute the first authorised vaccine around the country. With much of passenger air transport locked down since March, the Louisville, Kentucky-based operator has also been helping to keep the global economy moving by keeping vital trade routes open. We find out what it’s like to work for one of the industry’s freight transport giants
How has the past 10 months been for UPS Airlines?
The past 10 months have been challenging and gratifying. Challenging, because as a worldwide operation, the pandemic has generated different guidelines and protocols that we must navigate daily to not only serve our customers but to keep our employees safe. It’s rewarding because we’ve been given the opportunity and responsibility to support people world-wide by delivering life-saving goods and products. We are among the frontline heroes and we take great pride in helping save lives by ensuring and maintaining a reliable delivery network that our customers can depend on.
How much of a challenge has Covid-19 been for your operations directly in terms of keeping crew safe?
UPS Airlines has gone to great lengths to ensure safety for all employees during the coronavirus pandemic. We have mandated mask usage and social distancing. We have provided crew members with masks, gloves and hand sanitizer, and we have enhanced cleaning protocols for our buildings, vehicles and aircraft.
We have thorough contact tracing and quarantine protocols. We have educated employees on public health practices. And we have paid leave programs for employees who test positive or are directed to quarantine by a medical clinician.
Additional safety measures for our pilots include alternate flight schedules, thermometers, free, rapid testing, and work with government health entities to ensure our crews’ safe and healthy transit through nations around the world.
What role do you expect to play in global vaccine distribution?
UPS Airlines’ role is to provide safe, accurate, on-time delivery of life-saving shipments to healthcare facilities across the USA. In fact, we are delivering 50% of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the country, as well as to foreign locations. The first shipment arrived at UPS Worldport on Sunday 12 December, where it was sorted and delivered around the country the following morning with 100% on-time service. We have significant knowledge and extensive expertise to meet the needs and demands of our customers for testing kit and vaccine distribution. For more than 15 years, and under our newly organized UPS Healthcare division, UPS has been methodically building its expertise and capabilities in this highly specialized area of logistics.
What is the UPS Airlines fleet?
As of 1 November, we operate 75 Boeing 757s, 76 767s, 52 Airbus A300s, 39 McDonnell Douglas MD-11s, and 31 747s.
Are you still recruiting pilots?
Yes. In 2020 UPS hired 205 pilots and, based on anticipated pilot retirements, continued e-commerce growth, and fleet development, the company is expecting the need for additional pilots in 2021. There are currently more than 3,000 pilots flying for UPS.
What type of qualities and experience do you look for in a first officer or captain?
UPS pilots must meet these basic aviation qualifications:
Preferred qualifications include:
The candidate will be required to successfully complete the hiring process of UPS Airlines including, but not limited to, a pilot application, employment records review pursuant to PRIA, the interview process and simulator evaluation.
Additionally, UPS emphasizes hiring pilots through its own pilot referral process. Current UPS pilots are encouraged to recommend candidates with excellent flying, CRM, and interpersonal skills. The best type of referral is one in which a UPS pilot has flown with a candidate and observed the attributes that would make them a solid match for the UPS aviation culture. Moreover, the flexible and fast-paced environment of overnight shipping means UPS puts an emphasis on a pilot’s characteristics for exceptional decision making, problem solving, teamwork, and conflict resolution - while being committed to follow established safety guidelines and programs. Pilots, as well as all UPS employees, expect quality and efficiency by remaining constructively dissatisfied in their pursuit of excellence.
What are some of the best aspects of working for UPS Airlines?
There are many benefits to a pilot flying for UPS. Due to the e-commerce boom, cargo operations are currently thriving and more stable. UPS flies state-of-the-art aircraft and a vastly different network, with fewer flight legs, take-offs, and shorter duty days than passenger airlines. This is an advantage since UPS pilot salaries are equivalent to passenger airline pilots. On average, a typical UPS pilot works 11 days with 13 flight hours per month. UPS pilots recently extended their contract for two more years with scheduled pay raises of 4% and 3% in 2021 and 2022. International travel, as well as jump-seating privileges, are an extra bonus as they traverse the UPS flight operations system worldwide.
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