CNBC reports that a problem with the American Airlines computer systems has resulted in a large number of flights during the holiday season to currently have no one scheduled to fly them. The airline, the largest in the United States, blames the problem on a system error that allowed pilots to take a vacation at the same time.
To remedy the situation, American Airlines is offering pilots 150% of normal pay to work on needed dates. The airline also plans to utilize the services of reserve pilots to get them through the holiday season.
Well over 10,000 of the 200,000 scheduled flights by the airline in the month of December are possibly in question. Many of these flights are originating in major hubs like O’Hare in Chicago and La Guardia in New York. The flights affected take place between December 17 to December 31.
The American Airlines system allows pilots to select flights ahead of time. Priority in these choices is based on seniority. The system malfunction allowed pilots to drop previously scheduled flights and schedule Christmas vacations at the same time.
The Allied Pilot’s Association has filed a grievance against American Airlines, citing what the union believes to be a violation in the manner the airline seeks to solve the problem because of overtime restriction clauses in pilot contracts.
There are no current estimates as to how much this system error will cost the airline but it should be noted that a past rise in labor cost did not go over well with investors. American Airline shares dropped drastically earlier this year when the airline announced that pilots and flight attendants will be getting pay increases.
Nervous customers used social media to contact the airline in hopes of being reassured about holiday travel plans. Officials at American Airlines say the airline ‘expects to avoid cancellations.’