After American Airlines claimed a computer glitch over July 4th weekend dropped pilot assignments for more than 37,000 flying hours this month, the airline and its union reached a deal Wednesday offering three times normal pay to those who pick up an affected flight.
“Affected flights are those removed then non-contractually added to pilots’ schedules in July,” the Allied Pilots Association sent in an email to members on Wednesday. “APA steadfastly maintains that management had no right to add trips [back] to pilots’ schedules.”
While American previously told Fox News Digital the pilot scheduling system experienced a “technical glitch” and the same day “restored the vast majority of the affected trips,” the union has argued automatically adding the flights back onto pilots’ schedules breaks their legal contract.
“The failure of the IT system ultimately falls to the feet of management,” APA Communications Chairman Cpt. Dennis Tajer told Fox News Digital on Thursday. “This was their fault. This was something that was under their watch.”
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“After the mistake happened, they aggressively took action and placed [dropped trips] all back on the pilots’ schedules,” Tajer continued. “It was a violation of not just their contract, but about trust in a business partnership. They can’t do that. It’s not allowed.”
“Unfortunately for [American]the bad thing was when they decided to put back all those trips 12 hours later,” one American Airlines first officer and APA member also told Fox News Digital, “which is a pretty blatant violation.”
The 55-year-old first officer, who asked to remain anonymous, said some of his colleagues aren’t “thrilled” about the 200% premium agreement made on Wednesday, which also includes a new permanent double pay holiday premium for pilots.
“I’ve heard rumors of everything that they were hacked,” the union member said. “I think it was probably somebody just hit the wrong button.”
“I see people saying they want to go before a judge and have something done about this,” he continued. “I think the company was thinking, ‘Oh well, we will violate the contract on a mass scale’… it’s just sort of pretty hard to believe they thought they could do that, but they did.”
The “fiasco,” as APA called it in its email, happened as thousands of flights were already delayed or canceled during one of the busiest travel seasons as airlines struggle with staffing shortages.
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“We have solutions that will restore the trust in American Airlines’ reliability. Mr. [Robert] Isom has shown willingness to listen to us. What’s next is up to him,” Tajer said. “Give us another week of sit-down, with the same type of 24/7 engagement. We can get this whole [schedule] thing settled within a week, easy. It’s not a question of the problems. It’s a question of how much urgency do you have in getting this fixed? We cannot continue to be in headlines for all the wrong reasons.”
In a statement to Fox News Digital Thursday, an American Airlines spokesperson said, “We’re pleased to have reached an agreement with the APA and appreciate their partnership in coming to a resolution quickly to take care of our pilots, our team and our customers .”
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FOX Business’ Andrew Miller contributed to this report.