Published: Fri, December 01, 2017
Markets | By Rosalie Gross

Thousands of American Airlines holiday flights without pilots

Thousands of American Airlines holiday flights without pilots

The computer-system problem will force American to rebuild its staffing schedule, similar to what airlines must do after major weather disruptions, said John Cox, chief executive officer of consultant Safety Operating Systems and a former commercial airline pilot.

The Allied Pilots Association (APA) estimates roughly 15,000 American Airlines flights could be at risk of being canceled because they do not have a full crew.

Speaking to Reuters, APA's Dennis Tajer said the issue was a 'crisis'.

American Airlines, the largest USA airline, is now offering pilots 150 percent of hourly pay to work those dates, an airline spokesman said.

American acknowledged the issue, which essentially let too many pilots request time off during the second half of December.

American Airlines is one of three carriers with flights into and out of the local airport.

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Employees waves to American Airlines flight on tarmac.

"American Airlines (accidentally) giving all of their pilots Christmas off is one of my favorite things to happen this year", Twitter user Blaise Schaefer wrote.

The scheduling problem has left flights from some of American Airlines' biggest hubs without pilots including Miami, Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago's O'Hare and New York's LaGuardia Airport, without pilots, according to a memo from the airline to pilots, which was seen by CNBC. The computer said, Hey ya'll.

"That data does not support management's statement regarding December flights that 'only a few hundred are now unassigned to pilots, ' " the union said. You want the days off? In addition, we have more reserve pilots on hand in December than normal months and they provide us with the ability to fly numerous trips that are now uncovered. But the number was high enough that the carrier had to quickly adopt several new measures to keep its holiday flights on schedule. The contract means they can not offer any more overtime pay.

"We have not canceled any scheduled flights in December and will continue to work to ensure both our pilots and our customers are cared for", the airline said.

Meanwhile the union which not involved in developing collaborative solutions to this critical holiday scheduling failure, says, "Because management unilaterally created their solution in violation of the contract, neither APA nor the contract can guarantee the promised payment of the premium being offered".

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