The holiday season isn’t looking so bright for American Airlines due to a major internal scheduling error. The union the pilots belong to report that the system allowed more pilots to take time off than it should have to ensure adequate coverage for all the flights this holiday season.
The Allied Pilots Association stated that American was trying to fill these empty spots to ensure flights wouldn’t be canceled by offering pilots willing to take the shifts one and a half times what they normally make, according to their spokesman Gregg Overman. The union responded by filing a grievance to the offer because the premium pay was not part of the contract and was not guaranteed by American Airlines to be paid. The organization is currently responsible for representing more than 15,000 pilots.
Mr. Overman stated that more than 15,000 flights could possibly be affected by the internal error. The flights impacted by the shortage of pilots start December 17th and go through the end of the year. It is currently unclear whether there will be any cancellations at the current time as American airlines struggles to rectify this problem. The holidays are a busy time for the airline industry and cancellations would have a ripple effect on thousands of travelers if these flights are canceled.
American is hoping to sit down with the A.P.A to work out a solution to the problem, but negotiations can’t take too long since the flights are scheduled to take off in less than three weeks. Mr. Overman stated that the union is unable to offer any additional information about the issue and hopes that the airlines can work a solution out that will satisfy people on both sides of the dilemma.
Flights that are scheduled without pilots to fly them originate out of large cities including Philadelphia, Chicago, Miami, Fort Worth, New York, Boston, Charlotte, Washington, and Dallas-Fort Worth. Information on how the error occurred was not initially available. The system works by assigning flights to pilots, who can then use the automated system to trade or drop flight assignments that they didn’t want to fulfill. The system isn’t supposed to allow a pilot to drop a flight unless someone is able to cover them, but the error allowed all drop requests to go through. The pilots planned around this scheduling and assumed that they weren’t responsible for these assignments any longer, according to Mr. Overman.
Cancellation of these flights would be a severe and significant problem, especially at such a busy time during the year. No one wants to experience the hassle, inconvenience, and disruption of their holiday plans due to such a small error. The cancellation of all these flights would be drastic and might occur If the two are unable to sit down and quickly reach an agreement.
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