American says it has found pilots for most Christmas flights

NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC/AP) - American Airlines says only a few hundred of its late December flights remain without pilots scheduled to fly the plane.

An airline spokesman said Thursday that pilots were picking up extra flights and the airline had more on-call pilots in December than during other months.

The pilots' union had said that more than 15,000 flights lacked a captain, co-pilot or both when a problem was discovered in the company's scheduling system. Pilots were allowed to take vacation days in the last two weeks of December even if there wasn't another pilot available to operate the flight.

American has about 15,000 pilots to operate roughly 200,000 flights scheduled during December. Fort Worth-based American is the world's largest airline.

The Vice President of Public Affairs for AAA Tidewater, Georjeane Blumling calls this glitch a, "fairly major event."

Blumling said it will impact the airports in Hampton Roads like Norfolk International Airport and Newport News / Williamsburg International Airport because they have American Airlines. Both of the airports are also not hubs for American Airlines.

She said that means there are few connecting flights. So, if your flight doesn't work out then you might be stuck for a little while.

“Most folks at this point have probably already booked their airline tickets if they’re booked during that last half of December. Which may make people feel very nervous,” said Blumling.

People we spoke with, traveling on American Airlines said they have conflicting feelings to the staffing shortage.

 

“A lot of people are going to be upset. Especially already bought tickets all that other stuff it’s not gonna be good for American Airlines at all,” said China Hudgens.

 

“Glitches are going to happen. I work in I-T so things like that to happen. Fortunately with historical incidence you know they’re able to work through them,” said Ray Sanchez.

 

In a statement to 13News Now, American Airlines said the following:

Out of the 200,000 flights American will operate in December, only a few hundred are currently unassigned to pilots. That number of open flights continues to decrease thanks to our pilots who are stepping up to the plate and picking up trips to ensure customers are taken care of. It’s another example of why we are thankful to have such an incredible team. 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. 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.”

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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