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Glitch faces American Airlines with pilot shortage for holidays

By Allen Cone
Glitch faces American Airlines with pilot shortage for holidays
American Airlines said Wednesday it's working to fill gaps in pilot scheduling next month, which were created by a computer scheduling problem. File Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 29 (UPI) -- American Airlines doesn't currently have enough pilots to serve thousands of flights during next month's busy holiday travel period, due to a computer scheduling problem.

The Allied Pilots Association, the union representing the carrier's aviators, told its members Wednesday it learned there are "significant holes" in the operation."

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"Management disclosed a failure within the pilot schedule bidding system," the union wrote in a message on its website. "As a result, thousands of flights currently do not have pilots assigned to fly them during the upcoming critical holiday period."

The association said American management "unilaterally invoked a solution for crewing affected flights," and that it filed a grievance for what it said it is a direct contract violation.

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"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," the union said.

"By not including APA in developing collaborative solutions to this critical holiday scheduling failure, management's actions contrast with their handling of previous scheduling failures involving other work groups. ... Management's actions likewise jeopardize any collaborative effort to ensure our passengers have a pilot crew to take them to their important holiday events."

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American spokesman Matt Miller said the airline is offering pilots 150 percent of their normal hourly wage to pick up some of the flights, the top rate laid out in their contract.

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Miller declined to reveal the potential number of flights involved, saying the airline expects to avoid cancellations.

"This is certainly not routine," Miller told Bloomberg. "This is a crisis right now, and in that crisis, they've gone solo."

Miller said the computer problem caused the scheduling system to show that American incorrectly had ample staffing coverage for some of the holiday flights.

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American and regional partner American Eagle average nearly 6,700 flights daily to 350 destinations in 50 countries, according to its website.

American is the No. 1 carrier worldwide in number of passengers -- nearly 199 million last year.

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