Why American Airlines Could Face Thousands of Cancellations this Holiday Season

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American Airlines could face thousands of cancellations if their pilot scheduling isn’t fixed. Due to their scheduling system, the airline essentially approved all vacation time over the holidays and now is facing a massive shortage with thousand of flights not having a flight crew.

You’ll recall a similar situation over at RyanAir earlier this year: This European Airline Canceling 50 Flights Daily For Several Weeks


A scheduling glitch that allowed American Airlines pilots to take vacation at the same time has left thousands of flights during the busy holiday travel period next month without pilots assigned to them.

Pilots loaded up their schedules with flights in early December but many opted to take days off around the holidays, after the system allowed it.

The airline is working to incentive pilots to work these flights by offering them a premium incentive pay of 150%, however I’d still expect to see cancellations in their schedule, as there are FAA rules which mandate pilot hours so it’s not just as easy as offering them extra pay.

“We have reserve pilots to help cover flying in December, and we are paying pilots who pick up certain open trips 150 percent of their hourly rate — as much as we are allowed to pay them per the contract,” he said. “We will work with the APA to take care of our pilots and ensure we get our customers to where they need to go over the holidays.”

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  1. What kind of idiot wrote the contract that limited their pay to 150%? It should be a supply and demand issue. If they have to pay 300% as an incentive to work the shifts, that option should be on the table.

  2. I’m not totally in touch with the details of the APA contract but for sure there are pay levels above 150%. I suspect it’s in the way they are wording the above statement “as of right now”. As we get closer to the dates with open pilot positions they will enter “high time” and “critical coverage”. Both of those allow more pay flexibility I believe.

    I suspect we will see lots of flight consolidations on Xmas day and other low fly days.

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