Kalitta Air

Kalitta Pilots
A Kalitta Air B-747-400F at Incheon International Airport. Photo: Capt. Steve Russell (Kalitta Air)

At A Glance

Pilots joined ALPA: 2018

Number of pilots/flightcrew members: 800

Pilot bases: Home-based

Hubs/key markets: Cincinnati, Ohio; Anchorage, Alaska; Los Angeles, Calif.; Miami, Fla.; Chicago, Ill.; New York City, N.Y.; Honolulu, Hawaii; Brussels, Belgium; Muharraq, Bahrain; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Incheon, South Korea; Shanghai, China; Hong Kong; Santiago, Chile; Sydney, Australia; Singapore, Singapore; and Quito, Ecuador

Headquarters: Ypsilanti, Mich.

Operations: Kalitta Air operates flights all over the globe.

Fleet: 24 B-747-400Fs and 5 B-777Fs. The fleet is expected to grow with the addition of 7 B-777-300ERSFs and 3 B-777-200Fs in 2024–25.

Kalitta Air pilots operate charter cargo flights transporting freight around the globe for various customers including the U.S. State Department, DHL, Emirates, Pacific Air Cargo, and other freight-forwarding companies. For more than 40 years, Kalitta Air pilots have been flying safely and efficiently to get their customers’ cargo where it’s needed.

The pilots have been distinguished by their critical role in domestic and international emergency relief flights. In 2001, they operated the only nonmilitary aircraft to be airborne in the U.S. immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In 2020, the airline was tasked with expatriating nearly 1,000 Americans from Wuhan, China, during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic via B-747Fs. Kalitta Air was among the first carriers to operate humanitarian flights into Tel Aviv, Israel, late last year.

In September 2023, the pilots opened Section 6 negotiations with management for their collective bargaining agreement under ALPA representation. The company and the pilot group’s Master Executive Council (MEC) agreed to open the contract 18 months before the amendable date in order to address critical issues as the airline expands its fleet. The pilots are negotiating for a contract that includes improvements to compensation, benefits, and quality of life. The MEC already secured a 5 percent increase to 12 percent of the nonelective retirement contribution effective Sept. 28, 2023, as part of a grievance settlement.

This January, Capt. Jeremy Keyes, the pilots’ MEC chair, took part in the 2024 Cargo Associations Summit. In 2023, the MEC cohosted the annual conference that brought together representatives from 14 airlines to address issues affecting cargo pilots, such as the threat of reduced-crew operations; share insights; and collaborate among unions and pilot leaders throughout the global cargo industry.

Capts. Stephen Alberts and Mike Billera, then a first officer, take off in a Kalitta Air B-777F in DHL’s livery at Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport. Photo: Nigel Coghlan