by Mark Albert
Courtesy: American Airlines
WASHINGTON (TVR) – Got pilots?
American Airlines is blaming a “computer glitch” for giving a vast number of its pilots time off over the holidays; so much time, in fact, that as of now approximately 15,000 flights full of passengers traveling to see loved ones, for vacations, or business have no one to fly them, the pilots’ union said.
The affected flights are scheduled from Dec. 17-31.
“If not fixed, it will inconvenience a lot of passengers,” Allied Pilot Association communications director Gregg Overman told CBS News.
“That’s a big number…That’s multiple days’ worth of flying,” Overman said.
American Airlines uses an app called “Trip Trade” to assign flights to pilots, Yahoo Finance reported.
The app mistakenly marked a vast number of flights in the crucial Christmas and New Year’s period as “green,” which means pilots may “drop” those flights and not work.
“All the trips turned green, so everyone dropped trips,” Yahoo said an anonymous American Airlines captain told its reporter. “It wasn’t a failure to assign [pilots], it’s just no one said, ‘I want to work Christmas.’”
The Fort Worth-based carrier is offering 150% pay to pilots who give up their mistakenly-granted holiday vacation time and plan to use reserve crews to try and fill the staffing gaps.
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It’s unknown if the airline’s current incentives will be enough to staff the 15,000 holiday flights, however.
Pilots can refuse to work the flights for which they were already granted time off, the union said.
The APA warned its pilots that the carrier had not yet “guaranteed to pay 150% for all flights during this time,” Yahoo reported.
Negotiations are reportedly in progress.
Pilots may decide not to fly at the current offer of time-and-a-half, the captain who did not want his name used said.
“I think there’s going to be some pilots who don’t have young kids who are going to fly for time-and-a-half,” the American Airlines captain was quoted as saying.
“But I ain’t gonna work on Christmas—sure as hell not for time-and-a-half. Double time—I’d probably go do that.”
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