Sky Talk

About 200 American Airlines pilots to get extra pay to fly holiday flights

American Airlines is offering double-time pay to about 200 pilots who say they were unfairly assigned to work flights on Christmas.

The Fort Worth-based company said it will pay 200 percent of the regular pay rate if the pilot flies the scheduled Christmas flight. The issue arose last month after pilots voiced concerns with the version of the preferential bidding system software used to create the December schedules.

The Allied Pilots Association alleged that a newer version of the software could have been used to avoid seniority issues where high-seniority pilots were assigned to fly Christmas trips while junior pilots were not. However, American chose to use an older version of the software because the new version had not been fully tested.

The union and company management have been meeting since late November to come up with a solution for the December schedule as American typically offers more flights to travelers in the last two weeks of the month because of the holidays.

According to a memo sent to pilots on Friday, an analysis of the old version and the new version identified 198 pilots who would have had Christmas off under the new software. Those pilots only are being offered the 200 percent pay option and will not be given the extra pay if they call in sick or trade the flight with another pilot.

“It’s a win-win for the company and the pilots,” said American spokesman Matt Miller, noting that the preferential bid system working group which includes pilots developed the temporary solution for the December schedule.

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

Last holiday season, a software glitch in bidding system used by American flight attendants caused hundreds of former US Airways flight attendants to be mistakenly assigned trips over Christmas. The airline offered 300 percent pay to those flight attendants who chose to work the mis-assigned trips.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk