A scheduling glitch has left American Airlines scrambling to find pilots to operate thousands of flights over the busy Christmas holiday period.
A spokesman for the airline said Wednesday that American expects to avoid canceling flights by paying overtime and using reserve or on-call pilots.
American isn’t saying how many flights are affected, but the pilots’ union says that about 15,000 flights were scheduled without a captain, a co-pilot or both.
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American, the world’s biggest airline, has about 15,000 active pilots and expects to operate more than 200,000 flights in December.
Pilots bid each month for flying assignments based on seniority. The scheduling glitch let pilots drop scheduled flights — to take a vacation over Christmas, for example — even when there were no other pilots available for that flight. Normally such a request would be denied, especially during busy travel periods.