The Bot­tom Line

The Columbus Dispatch - - Market Summary -

Jeffrey Ed­wards, the CEO of In­stalled Build­ing Prod­ucts, is pay­ing $1,000 out of his own pocket to each em­ployee who com­pletes a per­sonal-fi­nance pro­gram called "Mo­men­tun onUp," of­fered by SunTrust, an At­lanta-based bank. It's aimed to help work­ers be more pro­duc­tive by re­duc­ing fi­nan­cial stress.

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Amer­i­can Air­lines is rush­ing to re­solve a sched­ul­ing fault that gave time off to too many pi­lots in De­cem­ber — a flaw that has left more than 15,000 flights with­out suf­fi­cient crew dur­ing the hol­i­day rush, ac­cord­ing to a union for the car­rier’s pi­lots.

The Al­lied Pi­lots As­so­ci­a­tion es­ti­mated the num­ber of af­fected flights, from Dec. 17 to Dec. 31, based on in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by the car­rier, said Den­nis Ta­jer, a spokesman for the union. Amer­i­can spokesman Matt Miller de­clined to quan­tify the po­ten­tial num­ber of flights in­volved, say­ing the air­line ex­pects to cor­rect the prob­lem and avoid can­cel­la­tions.

“We are work­ing through this to make sure we take care of our pi­lots and get our cus­tomers to where they need to go over the hol­i­days,” Miller said.

The com­puter-sys­tem prob­lem will force Amer­i­can to re­build its staffing sched­ule, sim­i­lar to what air­lines must do after ma­jor weather dis­rup­tions, said John Cox, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of con­sul­tant Safety Op­er­at­ing Sys­tems and a for­mer com­mer­cial air­line pi­lot. Rev­enue will take a hit if Amer­i­can has to scrub many flights. At a min­i­mum, the car­rier is likely to face higher la­bor costs just as in­vestors are step­ping up scru­tiny of air­line ex­penses.

“It will be a chal­lenge, but I don’t think there will be mass can­cel­la­tions,” Cox said. “There’s go­ing to be a lot of mid­night oil spent on it, but I think they’ll get the vast ma­jor­ity of them cov­ered one way or an­other.”

Amer­i­can pared share gains on the news, climb­ing 1.3 per­cent to $49.86 at 1:51 p.m. in New York, eas­ily the small­est gain on a Stan­dard & Poor’s in­dex of the five big­gest U.S. air­lines. Amer­i­can ad­vanced 5.4 per­cent this year through Tues­day, com­pared with a de­cline of less than 1 per­cent for the in­dex.

The Fort Worth, Tex­as­based car­rier is of­fer­ing pi­lots 150 per­cent of their nor­mal hourly wage to pick up some of the flights, the top rate laid out in their con­tract, Miller said.

The APA, rep­re­sent­ing 15,000 Amer­i­can pi­lots, has filed a griev­ance, say­ing the pro­posed so­lu­tion vi­o­lates its la­bor pact. The union wants to con­sult with Amer­i­can to find a so­lu­tion that will mo­ti­vate pi­lots to give up va­ca­tion they’ve al­ready been granted after years of work­ing over the hol­i­days, Ta­jer said.

“This is cer­tainly not rou­tine,” Ta­jer said. “This is a cri­sis right now, and in that cri­sis, they’ve gone solo.”

The glitch caused the sched­ul­ing sys­tem to show that Amer­i­can had am­ple staffing cov­er­age for some planned flights when it ac­tu­ally didn’t, Miller said. The car­rier has made ad­just­ments to the sys­tem and ex­pects it to op­er­ate smoothly from now on. Amer­i­can, the world’s largest air­line, op­er­ates about 6,700 flights a day.

Flights that are sched­uled with­out a cap­tain, first of­fi­cer or both orig­i­nate from Dal­las-Fort Worth In­ter­na­tional, Amer­i­can’s largest hub, and air­ports in Bos­ton, Mi­ami, New York, Philadel­phia, Salt Lake City and Char­lotte, North Carolina, ac­cord­ing to a com­pany memo to the union, which was seen by Bloomberg News.

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