It seems that American Airlines will be having a lot of issues this holiday season. Reuters and ABC report that a computer glitch allowed all of American Airlines’ pilots to take vacation during the week of Christmas. This issue could pose a big problem for travelers that are planning to fly during the week of Christmas and leave thousands of planes grounded.
Reuters cites the union that represents pilots by saying that over 15,000 planes right now lack pilots in December. “On Friday, management disclosed a failure within the pilot schedule bidding system,” the Allied Pilots Association said in a statement. “As a result, thousands of flights currently do not have pilots assigned to fly them during the upcoming critical holiday period.”
The glitch seems to have originated from the system that bids for pilots’ time off based on seniority, which led to the shortage of pilots for the week of Christmas. “Basically there’s a crisis at American for manning the cockpits,” Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, told Reuters.
BREAKING: American Airlines says computer glitch allowed all pilots to take vacation over Christmas week. Now union says thousands of flights are in jeopardy of cancellation. Americans says they’re offering 1.5x pay for pilots to fill in and expect to resolve the issue.
— Sam Sweeney (@SweeneyABC) November 29, 2017
American Airlines has stated that they’re working to fix the issue right now. One of the solutions they could be using is to give pilots extra pay for them to work during the week of Christmas so that flight assignments aren’t left open. The airline has send email to employees offering them one-and-a-half times their normal rate to have them work during the week, but there’s also another issue. Grievance filed by the union against management states that the restrictions on overtime pay were a violation of the group’s contract.
The union has also stated that American Airlines has not reached out to them to come up with a solution. “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.
A spokesperson from American Airlines said in a statement, “We are working diligently to address the issue and expect to avoid cancellations this holiday 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.”