American Airlines pilot scheduling error may ground your holiday travel plans

By Transportation FOXBusiness

American Airlines computer glitch causes holiday pilot shortage

FBN's Lauren Simonetti on the computer glitch at American Airlines that lead to a pilot shortage during the key travel days around the Christmas holiday.

A computer glitch at American Airlines allowed all pilots to take their vacation days off over the week of Christmas, potentially impact thousands of flights and even more travelers during one of the busiest travel times of the year.

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Between Dec. 17 and Dec. 31, more than 15,000 flights won’t have a full complement of pilots to get passengers to and from destinations. The Allied Pilots Association (APA), which represents 15,000 of American’s pilots, said the air carrier’s management disclosed the failure within the pilot schedule bidding system on Friday.

“Thousands of flights currently do not have pilots assigned to fly them during the upcoming critical holiday period,” the APA said in a press release. “Today, management issued an update detailing the “significant holes” in the operation and unilaterally invoked a solution for crewing affected flights.”

American said it was working to address the issue and expects to avoid cancellations during the crucial holiday travel season.

“We have reserve pilots to help cover flying in December, and we are paying pilots who pick up certain open trips 150 percent of their hourly rate – as much as we are allowed to pay them per the contract. We will work with the APA to take care of our pilots and ensure we get our customers to where they need to go over the holidays,” the airline said in a statement.

However, the deal won’t be such a simple fix, according to the APA, which said the contract with American could hinder the solution.

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“Unfortunately, the offer of premium pay has some restrictions, some limitations that don’t align with the wording in our contract governing situations like this, and so we can’t selectively decide which parts of the contact to abide by or otherwise,” APA Communications Director Gregg Overman told FOX Business.

While there is no crystal ball to predict the outcome of the situation, Overman hopes management at American can work with the union to solve the issue before it hits passengers and employees.

“Right now this is not a fix for sure. That’s safe to say,” he said.

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