If you're overcome with a fear of flying, imagine a fear of not flying. Over the weekend, parcel delivery specialist UPS(NYSE: UPS) announced it will lay off 100 pilots over the next few months. The company already gave 19 pilots their 30-day notice and will let another 81 go before September.

While UPS claims newer planes require fewer pilots on cargo flights, the underbelly of truth is that shipping volume has been stagnant of late. While the company posted healthy fourth-quarter profits last month, revenue inched up by a mere 3%.

Many of its growth problems aren't company specific, however. Airborne(NYSE: ABF) and FedEx(NYSE: FDX) posted modest double-digit percentage gains in revenue last quarter. Are they making inroads into UPS's consumer business stronghold, or are other factors at play? Brown is down but not for the count.

For the pilots, this couldn't come at a worse time. While the move will ultimately release just 4% of the company's flyers, their options are few and far between. Commercial airlines have scaled back flights by 20% over the last year, and have resorted to layoffs and drastic salary cuts to avoid being grounded. Sure, regional carriers such as JetBlue(Nasdaq: JBLU) and Southwest(NYSE: LUV) are growing, but pilots are paid poorly relative to other gigs.

So, where can one turn to receive some good economic news when even all-weather UPS is cutting its staff? Hard to say, but whoever delivers it probably won't be doing so from a little brown truck.