Friday, April 20, 2018
Business

American Airlines CEO: We expect to fly normal holiday schedule with no cancelled flights despite pilot scheduling glitch w/ video

TAMPA — American Airlines hasn’t "cancelled a single flight and doesn’t expect to cancel a single flight" as the result of a scheduling glitch that allowed an unusually large number of pilots to take time off during the Christmas holiday, company CEO Doug Parker said Friday.

"The company had a clerical mistake that has resulted in us not having enough of our pilots scheduled for flights that are coming in later December," Parker said at Tampa International Airport, where he was awarded the 2017 Tony Jannus Award for excellence in commercial aviation. "But our pilots have been stepping up. We offered them a premium. They’re stepping up and picking up trips.

"We’re confident that we’re going to be perfectly fine, and our customers will be perfectly fine with the flights," he said. "We expect that by the time we get done with this, we’re going to be flying our full schedule through the holidays."

The New York Times reported Wednesday that the pilots union had raised the possibility that up to 15,000 American flights after Dec. 17 could be in danger of being cancelled because an error in the company’s internal scheduling system gave too many pilots time off.

BACKGROUND: American Airlines in scramble to find pilots over the holidays

The airline said Thursday that out of 200,000 flights American will fly in December, only a "few hundred" lacked assigned pilots. Along with offering pilots 1½ times their normal pay, the company said it has more reserve pilots on hand in December than during normal months, and those will enable the airline to staff many of the trips that were uncovered.

"We’ll get through it," Parker said. "It’s a mistake we wish we hadn’t made. It’s not anybody’s fault, per se, an individual. What we know is we shouldn’t have systems this important be subject to people making mistakes. We’ll work through that. We’ll figure out to make sure it doesn’t happen again to us."

American Airlines carried 3 million passengers to and from Tampa last year and will average 34 departures per day during December.

"Tampa’s a really important market to us," Parker said. "I don’t know that we have plans to expand the number of flights. But certainly in markets like Tampa what we generally see is putting larger airplanes in as demand continues to grow. So we’ll grow as demand to fly in and out of Tampa grows."

American’s CEO since 2013, Parker was chosen for the Tony Jannus Award because American Airlines hit financial and operational high notes this year, including its integration of U.S. Airways into its business following a merger between the two carriers in 2015.

"American Airlines is a big part of our community," Tampa International Airport chief executive officer Joe Lopano said during a ceremony where Parker was recognized. "The reason that we are so prosperous in our community is because of the commitment of people like Doug to us."

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines, named 2017 Tony Jannus Award winner

The Tony Jannus Distinguished Aviation Society has presented the award for 54 years to individuals who show excellence in commercial aviation. The award is named after the pilot credited with the first scheduled airline flight, on New Year’s Day in 1914 between St. Petersburg and Tampa.

Lopano noted that Jannus took one passenger on that inaugural flight, flew 16 miles and charged $400 — adjusted for inflation, more than $8,400 in 2017 dollars — making him not only a visionary but a good businessman.

Parker said the honor was only possible because of American’s team, then took a broader view.

"What Tony Jannus started back in 1914 is now, I would argue, the most important business in the world," he said. "What is we do is connect people. ... We fly over walls. We fly over borders. We fly over divisiveness and stereotypes. We connect people. We make commerce work. We allow people to see the world."

Contact Richard Danielson at [email protected] or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times

Comments
Some people are paying for cuddles. And it’s not what you might think.

Some people are paying for cuddles. And it’s not what you might think.

When Samantha Hess’s marriage ended five years ago, she felt she was lacking a basic human need: Physical touch. As a woman in her late 20s living in Portland, Oregon, she found plenty of men interested in dating, but sexual contact was not what she ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Judge: Foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa violated numerous rules of conduct

Judge: Foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa violated numerous rules of conduct

Tampa Bay foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa has violated numerous rules of professional conduct and caused two clients to nearly lose their homes because he failed to tell them about settlement offers from their banks. Those were among the prelim...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Goodwill to open second store in greater Brandon

Goodwill to open second store in greater Brandon

Times staffThe greater Brandon area will celebrate the grand opening of its second Goodwill store beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday (April 28) at 1407 U.S. 301. The new store will add another 12,000 square feet to the complex, which includes a 200,000-...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/21/18
Regulators allow major solar company to lease home equipment

Regulators allow major solar company to lease home equipment

State regulators Friday determined that one of the country’s largest residential solar companies, San Francisco-based Sunrun, is allowed to lease solar energy equipment for homes in Florida. The decision, solar energy advocates say, could open the do...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida unemployment at 3.9 percent for sixth straight month

Florida unemployment at 3.9 percent for sixth straight month

For the sixth month running, Florida’s unemployment rate held at a nearly 11-year low of 3.9 percent in March as steady job gains continued. While many factors kept Florida’s economy chugging along, three industries stand out for leading year-over-ye...
Published: 04/20/18
Owners say new house is a disaster; developer accuses them of ‘online terrorism’

Owners say new house is a disaster; developer accuses them of ‘online terrorism’

ST. PETERSBURG --- Stretched across the front of Tim and Hyun Kims’ two-year-old house is a big banner with the name of a developer and the words: "I have to fix my new house."Some of what needs fixing is instantly apparent. The front steps are too ...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida has hit a milestone of sorts as it slowly moves toward wider availability of medical marijuana.The number of patients in the state who are registered to use the substance has surpassed 100,000 for the first time, according to Florida Departme...
Published: 04/20/18
Q&A: Walmart leader chats about Florida stores, and the chain’s latest retail strategy

Q&A: Walmart leader chats about Florida stores, and the chain’s latest retail strategy

The Tampa Bay Times recently sat down with Walmart director of corporate communications Phillip Keene to chat about the retail giant’s latest retail strategies and how the company is winning over customers in a competitive market.Already, two of the ...
Published: 04/20/18
SunTrust warns 1.5 million clients of potential data breach

SunTrust warns 1.5 million clients of potential data breach

Associated PressNEW YORK — SunTrust Banks Inc. says accounts for 1.5 million clients could be compromised following a potential data breach. The Atlanta bank says that it became aware of the potential theft by a former employee and that the investiga...
Published: 04/20/18
Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

The Tampa Bay area’s hotel occupancy rate rose to 87.5 percent in March, the highest level in three years. The rise was fueled by spring break vacationers as well as insurance adjusters and hurricane cleanup crews flooding the state to restore it aft...
Published: 04/20/18