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American Airlines pilots upset with holiday bid schedule

American Airlines pilots are upset about their December flight schedules, saying that the carrier’s computer software unfairly assigned high-seniority pilots to fly on Christmas.

In a hotline sent to 15,000 pilots on Thursday evening, the Allied Pilots Association said the problems occurred with the version of preferential bidding system software used to create the December schedules.

“It has been botched,” said Dan Carey, the union’s president, at a news briefing on Wednesday. “We have senior pilots who will be working over the holidays in December and junior pilots who will be off.”

According to the union, a newer version of the software that American received in November could have been used to avoid some of the seniority issues. However, American’s information technology team said the software had not been fully tested and senior management chose to use the older version.

Carey met with American’s chief executive Doug Parker on Wednesday to discuss possible remedies to the bid problems, the union said.

American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller said the December bid was run with the same software used for the November bid. The update to the software has not been fully tested for every scenario to make sure the algorithms properly address trip coverage, seniority and compliance with Federal Aviation Administration crew duty rules.

“We have reached out to APA to come up with solutions for anyone who has concerns with the December bid but so far APA has declined those offers,” Miller said.

American is slowly rolling out a new bidding system for pilots across the company. Currently, pilot bases in Boston, Charlotte, Washington D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia, Phoenix and St. Louis are using the new preferential bidding system. Pilots in New York and Dallas/Fort Worth were not affected by the seniority issues as they are not yet using the new system.

Last Christmas, a software glitch in the flight attendant’s preferential bidding system caused hundreds of former US Airways flight attendants to be mistkenly assigned trips over the holidays. The carrier offered 300 percent pay for the flight attendants who chose to work the mis-assigned trips and 150 percent pay to all of the former US Airways flight attendants for flights worked from December 15 to December 31.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk