Glitch Could Threaten 15K AA Flights Over Christmas, Says Union

A failure in American Airlines’ pilot schedule bidding system has resulted in thousands of flights currently not having pilots assigned to fly them during the upcoming holiday travel period, says the Allied Pilots Association (APA), a union representing pilots for the airline.

According to Reuters, the union estimates that over 15,000 flights during the busy December 17 – 31 holiday travel period were affected by the error.

“We are working diligently to address the issue and expect to avoid cancellations this holiday season,” an American Airlines spokesperson told Travel Agent. “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.”

On Twitter Sam Sweeny of ABC News said that the glitch allowed all of American Airlines’ pilots to take a vacation during Christmas week.

Management disclosed the error on Friday, the union said in a statement on its website.

“Today, management issued an update detailing the ‘significant holes’ in the operation and unilaterally invoked a solution for crewing affecting flights,” the APA said in a written release.

The APA said it has responded by filing a Presidential Grievance, and said that neither it nor the contract between APA pilots and the airline can guarantee the promised payment of the premium being offered.

If the scheduling issue is not resolved, it would cause flight delays and cancellations during what could be a busy holiday travel period. While organizations like AAA and Airlines for America (A4A), who typically release holiday travel forecasts, have not yet released projections for Christmas and New Year’s travel, this past Thanksgiving weekend was a busy one. AAA called it the busiest Thanksgiving travel period in a dozen years, with 50.9 million Americans traveling 50 or more miles from home. A4A said 28.5 million passengers flew, a 3 percent uptick from 2016.

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