Amerijet International (M6, Miami International) has laid off 15 employees in the wake of a prolonged slump in global air cargo demand after earlier agreeing to up pilots' pay by 45% increasing its costs at a time of shrinking sales.

A spokesperson for the cargo specialist confirmed to ch-aviation: "We increased our overall headcount by just about 400 employees during the air cargo peak over the past few years. We did reduce our Miami workforce by 15 positions last week. This decision was not easy; it was purely based on our current business model".

Chief Executive Tim Strauss told staff in a memo shared with Freightwaves that: "Over the past several months, our company, like many others in the air cargo business, has faced several challenges and market shifts that have impacted our financial stability. Despite our best efforts to mitigate these challenges with cost reductions and avoidances across the board, it has become necessary for us to take action to ensure the long-term sustainability of our organisation. We have had to make some tough choices to align our resources with our strategic goals and create a leaner, more agile organisation for the future."

Meanwhile, pilots at Amerijet, represented by the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA), voted in favour of a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) after Amerijet's management and ALPA agreed to the terms, which include new pay rates and work rules that would increase schedule flexibility. In a statement, Strauss said the agreement would provide job security for Amerijet pilots. The new three-year contract reportedly raises their pay up to 45%.

According to the company spokesperson, slow economic growth in Latin American and Caribbean markets served by Amerijet has affected all carriers providing service to this region. Amerijet's primary scheduled service region is Latin America and the Caribbean, except for a weekly freighter service to Brussels National (Belgium).

"We will continue diversifying our business to build solid development and growth strategies globally. Our fleet expansion plan has not changed, and we continue to hire pilots; primarily focusing on direct entry captains as we expand our fleet. We took delivery of additional aircraft this year and are continuing to place them with various ACMI, charter, and scheduled service opportunities. Additionally, our hub flexibility allows for a spare to provide our customers with the utmost best service," she said.

According to the ch-aviation fleets module, Amerijet operates a fleet of 25 freighters, including six B757-200(PCF)s and nineteen B767 freighters operated for DHL Express and Maersk Air Cargo (DJ, Billund). Seven units in its fleet are currently parked, according to ch-aviation data.

Still, earlier this year, the company shut down its small freight forwarding division that employed 27 people and outsourced accounting functions to Trinidad & Tobago. It also reduced its flight schedule to Aruba and Brussels because of the downturn in business, according to Freightwaves.