American Airlines is assuring passengers their holiday travel plans are safe. On Friday the airline said it had resolved a scheduling issue that left thousands of upcoming flights without pilots.
The glitch had left as many as 15,000 flights — the pilots' union estimated — without a captain, co-pilot or both between Dec. 17 and Dec. 31 at dozens of airports. The airline and the Allied Pilots Association had disagreed how to overcome the problem.
The Fort Worth-based airline and the pilots' union came to an agreement Friday to make sure every flight now has a crew.
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American plans to use reserve pilots to fill many of the assignments and pay others time-and-a-half to cover the rest. Reserve pilots are generally those at American with the least seniority.
American, the world's biggest airline, expects to operate more than 200,000 flights in December.
American released the following statement Friday afternoon:
"Earlier this week, American Airlines shared that a processing error resulted in some concern as to whether our flights over the December holidays would have adequate pilot staffing. We are pleased to report that together, American and the Allied Pilots Association have put that worry to rest to make sure our flights will operate as scheduled. By working together, we can assure customers that among the many stresses of the season, worrying about a canceled flight won’t be one of them. In short, if Santa is flying, so is American. Much appreciation to APA President Capt. Dan Carey and our 15,000 professional aviators who are doing their part to cover the holiday schedule and beyond. As always, when there’s a need, the American Airlines team comes together to take care of each other and our customers."
And the Allied Pilots Association said:
"The APA leadership met with American Airlines senior management today to discuss APA's grievance concerning restrictions on premium pay and trip trading for December flying. APA and management have reached an agreement in principle addressing our respective needs, and we have withdrawn our grievance. With this agreement in principle, we anticipate that American Airlines will be able to maintain a full December schedule as planned for its passengers. Thank you for your outstanding support and for your commitment to our passengers' interests, who can now count on American Airlines to take them to and from their holiday destinations around the globe."