Thousands of American Airlines' flights left without pilots during Christmas week due to computer glitch

Officials at American Airlines are frantically trying to sort out the mess after a computer glitch left thousands of flights during Christmas week without pilots.

''This is certainly not routine,'' said captain Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, which represents 15,000 American pilots, The Washington Post reported. ''This is a crisis right now and in that crisis @AmericanAir has gone solo.''

The ''solo'' in Tajer's statement refers to carrier's efforts to encourage pilots to change their schedules and return to work at a higher level of pay. According to union officials the decision was made without consulting them.

Officials at American issued a statement seeking to reassure passengers reassure passengers with reservations on flights that might be affected.

''We are working diligently to address the issue and expect to avoid cancellations this holiday season. We have reserve pilots to help cover flying in December, and we are paying pilots who pick up certain open trips 150 per cent of their hourly rate – as much as we are allowed to pay them per the contract. 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.''

The Allied Pilots Association (APA) said in a statement, ''On Friday, management disclosed a failure within the pilot schedule bidding system. As a result, thousands of flights currently do not have pilots assigned to fly them during the upcoming critical holiday period.

''Today, management issued an update detailing the 'significant holes' in the operation and unilaterally invoked a solution for crewing affected flights.''

The airline is offering pilots pay at 50 per cent higher than normal rates in a bid to crew the jeopardised flights.

Meanwhile the union which not involved in developing collaborative solutions to this critical holiday scheduling failure, says, ''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.''