Thousands of December flights on American Airlines (AAL.O) do not yet have pilots scheduled to work because of a system scheduling error, the carrier's pilots union said as it gears up for one of the busiest travel periods of the year.
This has left American Airlines with a huge shortage of crew members affecting an estimated 15,000 flights between December 17th and December 31st.
"It's a really freaky situation", a union spokesman told CNBC.
The union saysin a statement, "As a result, thousands of flights now do not have pilots assigned to fly them during the upcoming critical holiday period".
"That is not a computer glitch that is a computer screw up, so they just gotta pay for it", said John Mauldin. "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".
"We don't want the story: the Grinch who stole Christmas at American Airlines", said Captain Dennis Tajer of Allied Pilots Association.
However, the union has filed a grievance against the airline's management saying that the restrictions on overtime pay violated the group's contract. Still, industry experts say the increased complexity of airline computer systems is to blame for a growing number of glitches that have recently grounded airplanes and posted ultra-cheap airfares.
Affected flights originate from American's largest hub at Dallas-Fort Worth International and airports in Boston, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City and Charlotte, according to a company memo sent to the union, which was seen by Bloomberg News.
The airline claims to have fixed the glitch, Gizmodo reported, but it remains to be seen how many flights between December 17-31 will get canceled.
"We expect to be able to avoid any cancellations".
"On Friday, management disclosed a failure within the pilot schedule bidding system", read a statement posted to the Allied Pilots Association's (APA) website on Tuesday.
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