American Airlines says only “a few hundred” of the 200,000 flights it will operate in December remained unassigned to pilots as a result of what it has labelled a scheduling error.
The airline scrambled to find pilots for 15,000 flights after its computer system mistakenly granted extra time off to an unusual number of pilots during the month.
It offered to pay pilots 150 per cent of their standard hourly wage to cover the shortfall after discovering the problem late last week.
It has since rebooted the system but not before upsetting the Allied Pilots Association for failing to consult about its solution.
Despite this, the airline’s pilots appear to be responding to the call to arms.
An explanatory note on the American website said the number of open flights continued to decrease “thanks to our pilots who are stepping up to the plate and picking up trips to ensure customers are taken care of”.
“In addition, we have more reserve pilots on hand in December than normal months and they provide us with the ability to fly many of the trips that are currently uncovered,’’ it said.
“We have not canceled any scheduled flights in December and will continue to work to ensure both our pilots and our customers are cared for.”
The glitch comes after the airline lauded its performance over the busy Thanksgiving holiday, saying it carried 5.5 million customers on 55,463 flights between November 17 and November 26 with three days without mainline cancellations.
Rival Delta Air Lines said it carried 2.35 million customers on almost 23,000 flights between November 22 and November 26 without a cancellation across its global network and an on-time rate of 92.7 per cent.
“The strong operational performance during one of the busiest travel periods of the year continues an 11-day streak without a mainline or Delta Connection regional flight cancellation and a more than 42-day streak on the mainline, eclipsing a previous airline record by more than 10 days,’’ it said.