Thousands of American Airlines flights are at risk of not operating in December due to a “glitch” in the crew staffing software. The carrier finalized a schedule that did not include coverage for all its flights, with many missing a captain, first officer or both. Airports affected include Dallas-Fort Worth, Boston, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City and Charlotte according to a company memo as shown to Bloomberg.
The company acknowledges the mess and notes that the scheduling software “glitch” is now resolved. But the staffing issues remain problematic. The company is offering pilots a 150% pay rate to give up vacations it previously approved in order to cover the flights. Unsurprisingly the pilots’ union is not amused.
Because management unilaterally created their solution in violation of the contract, neither APA nor the contract can guarantee the promised payment of the premium being offered.
That message to pilots, from the Allied Pilots Association, may be overly dramatic but it underscores the tenuous relationship the APA has with the company. The APA would prefer that it be included in negotiating a solution – potentially including even better payouts, comp days or other benefits – to help backfill the holes.
Considering an airline job?
30 yr career: this will be the 1st time I have Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Years at home. Trifecta 🙌🏾
Still missed anniversary & birthdays.
There are sacrifices, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Wife and kids make it work.
— Ken Hoke (@AeroSavvy) November 21, 2017
Losing allocated vacation time is a touchy subject in all industries but arguably more so in aviation. The operation never shuts down so many crew are familiar with not spending the holidays at home. Working under the assumption that they were granted and then facing a potential of not really having the time off can be brutal.
This is not the first major airline scheduling screw up this year. Ryanair somewhat famously managed to not budget enough crew hours for flights in September, a move with ripple effects into later months. In that case hundreds of thousands of passengers saw their flights vanish as the carrier could not convince pilots to work the extra shifts. That trouble was likely exacerbated by Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary’s many disparaging comments about pilots as the story unfolded. The current APA/American situation does not appear quite that bad but we also await confirmation that the schedule is fully covered.
Also, as someone who spends a lot of time working with computers, I’m highly suspicious that this is a “computer glitch” rather than something caused by human error. Unclear that we’ll ever know the full story, but I’m very, very, very skeptical. Computers do what the human programmers tell them to do.
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