Thousands of American Airlines flights for the holidays don't have pilots

Glitch by the world's biggest airline could see 15000 festive flights grounded

American Airlines Computer Glitch Could Wreck Your Christmas Travel Plans

The Allied Pilots Association, which represents some 15,000 American Airlines pilots, said the airline notified the union about a problem with the pilots' schedule bidding system last Friday.

"That number of open flights continues to decrease thanks to our pilots who are stepping up to the plate and picking up trips to ensure customers are taken care of", Aran Coello said in a statement. A computer glitch allowed an excessive number of vacations to be scheduled, creating a potential pilot shortage for what is expected to be one of the busiest holidays in years for the airline industry.

While American Airlines says only a "few hundred" flights remain without pilots, the Allied Pilots Association says the true number of flights still in jeopardy on cancellation is in the "thousands".

Speaking to Reuters, APA's Dennis Tajer said the issue was a 'crisis'.

A job posting at American for a director of crew scheduling was filed earlier in the month, and reposted after Thanksgiving, Miller said.

Some 15,000 flights out of major hubs, including Miami, Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago O'Hare and New York's LaGuardia Airport, are now estimated to be without pilots, CNBC reports. "The system went from responsibly scheduling everybody to becoming Santa Claus to everyone".

News of the scheduling glitch had caused some passengers to worry that their holiday flights could be canceled for lack of pilots. The computer said, Hey ya'll.

The union statement said in its statement that on Tuesday "management issued an update detailing the "significant holes" in the operation and unilaterally invoked a solution for crewing affected flights". You want the days off? Reserve pilots, however, can only pick up flights 24 hours before departure, so the flights that they are eventually assigned to are now unclaimed.

"We have more reserve pilots on hand in December than [in] normal months and they provide us with the ability to fly numerous trips that are now uncovered", American said in its initial statement on Thursday. To get pilots back in the cockpits, the airline said it tapped reserve pilots to take additional work shifts and offered 150% pay to get other pilots to work during their scheduled vacation.

Mr Tajer added: "I'm watching a 'Grinch that stole Christmas" thing happening.

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