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American Airlines scheduling glitch allows pilots to drop hundreds of July flights

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An American Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner approaches for a landing on the Miami International Airport on December 10, 2021 in Miami, Florida.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

A glitch in a scheduling platform allowed American Airlines pilots to drop hundreds of trips in July last night, their union said Saturday, a headache for the airline because it tries to attenuate flight disruptions during a booming travel season.

American confirmed the difficulty and said it didn’t expect the issue to affect its operation, including through the July Fourth holiday weekend.

“In consequence of this technical glitch, certain trip trading transactions were in a position to be processed when it shouldn’t have been permitted,” the airline said in a press release. “We have already got restored the overwhelming majority of the affected trips and don’t anticipate any operational impact for this reason issue.”

Greater than 12,000 July flights lacked either a captain, first officer or each, after pilots dropped assignments, the Allied Pilots Association said earlier.

Pilots can routinely drop or pick up trips, but day off in the summertime or holidays is tough to come back by for airline employees as schedules peak to cater to strong demand.

On Saturday alone, American had greater than 3,000 mainline flights scheduled they usually were 93% full, in keeping with an internal tally. Flights left unstaffed, nevertheless, are an extra strain on any airline.

The glitch occurred during a rocky begin to the Fourth of July weekend when thunderstorms and staffing issues caused hundreds of U.S. flight delays and a whole lot of cancellations.

American and its pilots’ union, whose relationship has been fraught, are in the midst of contract negotiations and the airline most recently offered nearly 17% raises through 2024. The union’s latest president, Capt. Ed Sicher, began a three-year term on Friday.

American’s pilots have picketed recently against grueling schedules, something they wish to be addressed in a latest contract. Pilots at Delta and Southwest have picketed in recent weeks for similar reasons.

American said it has suspended a platform that enables pilots to alter their schedules while it investigates the difficulty.

“We understand these are essential tools for our pilots and are working as quickly as possible. We’ll provide updates throughout the day as we learn more,” American told pilots in an email Saturday.

Dennis Tajer, an American Airlines captain and spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, said the corporate did not keep the IT system working properly and creating “uncertainty for passengers and pilots.”

An identical issue occurred in 2017, when a technology problem let American’s pilots take vacation through the busy December holiday period. The carrier offered pilots 150% pay for pilots that picked up assignments.

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