American Airlines Facing Severe Pilot Shortage in December
Don't you hate it when the boss asks you to cancel your vacation plans? Well, a lot of American Airlines pilots are potentially facing this situation after a bug in the pilot scheduling system allowed too many pilots to request time off around the holidays. Now, the world's largest airline is scrambling to get enough pilots for flights departing just weeks from now.
According to a Allied Pilots Association (APA) press release Tuesday, AA management explained the situation to the pilot union last Friday. The union notes that currently "thousands of flights currently do not have pilots assigned to fly them during the upcoming critical holiday period." The union isn't happy with the carrier's attempts to fix the situation, filing a grievance indicating that the airline's proposed solution violates its labor contract.
Bloomberg reports that "more than 15,000 flights" don't have sufficient crew for the crucial holiday travel period between December 17 and 31. The airline's pilot scheduling system originally showed that there was plenty of coverage for these flights, allowing too many pilots to request time off for the holidays.
An AA spokesperson confirmed the situation and noted that the airline is "working diligently to address the issue." The airline is offering extra pay to pilots who pick up flights during this time — 150% of their hourly rate. The spokesperson notes that this increased rate is "as much as [American Airlines] are allowed to pay them per the contract."
At this point, the airline is optimistic that things will work out. AA expects to "avoid cancellations this holiday season" and "will work with the APA to take care of [its] pilots and ensure [it] get[s] [its] customers to where they need to go over the holidays."
If the airline can't solve the problem soon, American Airlines will follow Ryanair in having to issue mass flight cancellations due to a scheduling error.