American Airlines Jets

15,000 Christmas flights of American Airlines are without a captain

Officials with the union representing American Airlines say the airline recently informed them of a problem with the pilot vacation system that has left thousands of flights without pilots.

So much so that they are now faced with 15,000 flights being without a captain or recalling a lot of those holidays and paying overtime.

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According to a post on the Allied Pilots Association’s website, “On Friday, management disclosed a failure within the pilot schedule bidding system. As a result, thousands of flights currently do not have pilots assigned to fly them during the upcoming critical holiday period. Today, management issued an update detailing the ‘significant holes’ in the operation and unilaterally invoked a solution for crewing affected flights.”

The statement goes on to say American Airlines is offering a “premium” to entice pilots to fill the flights.

The union of American Airlines pilots declared that the booking error of allowing holidays was discovered late last week. The scheduling glitch will affect flights between 17 December and 31 December, departing from major hubs such as Dallas, Chicago, and Miami.

Mr Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the pilot union, said: “This is a potential crisis that we see well in advance. This is very unusual.”

This is in a way quite similar to what Ryanair faced in Europe after the summer when it realized a lot of their pilots still had to take their holidays before the end of the year. Ryanair decided to deal with the problem by scrapping flights, leading to a major backlash from travelers.

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American Airlines spokesman Mr Matt Miller stated that they “expect to avoid cancellations this holiday season. We will work with the union to take care of our pilots and ensure we get our customers to where they need to go over the holidays.”

When the news of the glitch broke, the share price of American Airlines lost nearly $2 Meanwhile Delta, United, Southwest, and JetBlue all rose at least 3%.

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