American Airlines finds pilots for most December flights after glitch

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

Out of 200,000 flights American will operate in December, "only a few hundred" now don't have pilots, said American Airlines spokeswoman Alexis Aran Coello in an update Thursday, after the malfunction was made public Wednesday.

American Airlines has given holiday to hundreds of pilots during 17 to 31 of December, and it is estimated that more than 15,000 flights could be affected.

American Airlines is one of three carriers with flights into and out of the local airport.

Aircraft representatives declined to comment on how many of their 15,000 pilots were allowed to take a vacation over the holiday season, the LA Times reported.

However, American's pilot union, the Allied Pilots Association, expressed a contrary view, saying it has not agreed to any resolution, and complaining the company had not sought input from its members in crafting a solution. Now, the company says the number of flights with pilot staffing issues has been slashed to just a "few hundred" and continues to drop. The numbers had not changed much from previous days, said union spokesman Dennis Tajer.

This could be bad news for anyone flying with American Airlines.

Thousands of pilots were able to schedule breaks December 17-31, leaving flights scheduled to depart from American's most bustling hubs pilotless, including airports in New York City, Miami, Dallas and Chicago.

"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. "The system went from responsibly scheduling everybody to becoming Santa Claus to everyone".

A scheduling glitch could leave American Airlines passengers stranded for one of the busiest travel times of the year. The computer said, 'Hey ya'll. The group on Tuesday filed a grievance against management for "improperly restricting" the ability to earn extra pay on some trips and has been vocal about its concerns regarding American's willingness to work collaboratively to resolve the issue.

The Fort Worth-based carrier said it hopes to avoid canceling any flights during the holiday period by calling in reserve pilots and offering other pilots 150% of their salaries to return to the cockpits during the time they have been approved to be on vacation. You want the days off?

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

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