NEW YORK (AP) – American Airlines reached an agreement on Friday with its pilots union to avoid having to cancel thousands of flights during the holiday season due to a mistake with the schedules of the pilots.
The two sides had disagreed on how to overcome the problem, which had left thousands of scheduled flights without a captain, a co-pilot or both between December 17 and December 31 in dozens of airports, including hubs in Dallas, Chicago and Miami.
American said the two parties "have stopped worrying to make sure our flights work as scheduled."
American, the world's largest airline, has around 15,000 active pilots and expects to operate more than 200,000 flights in December.  The airline discovered the problem last week in its programming system, in which pilots bid each month for flight badignments based on seniority. The problem allows pilots to abandon scheduled flights, for example, to take a vacation, even when there were no other pilots available for that flight. Normally, this request would be denied, especially during periods of high movement.
The airline had said it would avoid canceling flights by paying overtime and using reservations or riders on duty. But the Allied Pilots Association filed a protest against the plan, saying that American was violating his employment contract by imposing a solution without the union's participation, and was unduly restricting premium payments.
The union said it abandoned its complaint after a day of talks that addressed the needs of both the pilots and the airline.
"With this agreement in principle, we anticipate that American Airlines will be able to maintain a full December schedule as planned for its pbadengers," the union said.
Union Spokesman Dennis Tajer said details will be published after the pilots see the deal.
"Both parties met to resolve this and now we will be flying on jets during the Christmas holidays," said Tajer.
The problem for American Airlines comes two months after Irish low-cost airline Ryanair said it would cancel more than 20,000 flights between November and March after admitting that it "spoiled" the transition to a new system for scheduling employee vacations .
Shares of American Airlines Group Inc., based in Fort Worth, Texas, fell $ 1.49, or 3 percent, on Friday to close at $ 49.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material can not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed.