American, pilots settle, clearing way for full flight schedule over holidays

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American Airlines and pilots settled a scheduling dispute that could have led to thousands of canceled flights.

“The APA (Allied Pilots Association) leadership met with American Airlines senior management today to discuss APA’s grievance concerning restrictions on premium pay and trip trading for December flying,” a release stated. “APA and management have reached an agreement in principle addressing our respective needs, and we have withdrawn our grievance,”

Reuters reported this week that too many pilots were given time off, due to a computer-driven error and that the airline was seeking volunteers and using reserve pilots in an attempt to fill the gap. Time off is based on seniority.

Pilots protested moves by the airline to resolve the situation, claiming they were not consulted and alleged the carrier’s move violated a union contract. American has long struggled with tense labor relations among various employee groups.

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Passengers also questioned the use of the system without more oversight.

The situation could impact Delaware travelers since the massive airline offers hundreds of daily flights from its hub at the Philadelphia International Airport.

Until now, American has been largely successful in integrating computer systems after the acquisition of US Airways, which formerly operated the Philadelphia hub. Profits have also soared, thanks to low fuel prices, as well as fees for last-minute ticket changes and checked baggage.

American is in the middle of the pack in customer satisfaction ratings, a situation that is not helped by low ratings for the Philadelphia airport, which is notorious for high in-terminal parking costs, crowded conditions, and inadequate runways.

American has made a few cuts from Philadelphia but has retained most service. Low-fare carriers, such as Frontier and Spirit have added service from the airport.

Long-time discounter Southwest reduced service several years ago, due to competition from US Airways that made flights less lucrative. As a result, fares to some short-haul destinations rose sharply.

American and the airport have worked to improve airport conditions with new construction projects that include improvements to the crowded B concourse. Airport officials say that future ratings will show improvements taking hold.

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