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American Airlines Scheduling SNAFU May Cost Carrier $10 Million

Agreement Reached With Pilot Union To Assure Flights Were Staffed

American Airlines scheduling problems that nearly left thousands of flights without pilots over the holidays may cost the carrier some $10 million, according to aviation analyst Jaime Baker.

USA Today reports that Baker, an aviation analyst for J.P. Morgan Chase, released the estimate on Monday. It reflects a deal made between the airline and its pilot union to offer double pay on some routes.

The problem stemmed from an error in the company's internal scheduling system that allowed pilots to take vacation even if no backup crew was available. That could have potentially forced American to cancel thousands of flights during the busy holiday travel period, and turned into a PR nightmare for the carrier. To entice pilots to fly the routes, the airline offered double wages in an agreement reached with the Allied Pilots Association (APA).

Baker said that the settlement is mostly a good thing in terms of public relations and customer goodwill on the part of American. He said ticket demand on the carrier is still strong, and fourth-quarter earnings may even increase slightly. Other analysts have also downplayed the impact of the mistake, with one even laying the blame on APA for publicizing the scheduling problem which would likely have gone unnoticed otherwise.

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