(WWJ/AP) – American Airlines is scrambling to find pilots to operate thousands of flights over the busy Christmas holiday period after a glitch in the computer system used to schedule crews.

A spokesman for the airline said Wednesday that American expects to avoid canceling flights by paying overtime and using reserve pilots, after many employees were inadvertently given the time off.

American isn’t saying how many flights are affected, but the pilots’ union says that about 15,000 flights were scheduled without a captain, a co-pilot or both.

A union spokesman calls the situation “a potential crisis” for the world’s biggest airline.

In an effort to avoid leaving holiday travelers stranded, American Airlines is offering pilots 150 percent of their normal hourly pay to fly their planes, according to a report by the Dallas Morning News, but the union claims that solution violates its labor agreement.

“We will work with the APA to take care of our pilots and ensure we get our customers to where they need to go over the holidays,” said an American Airlines spokesperson in a statement.

American Airlines has about 15,000 active pilots and expects to operate more than 200,000 flights in December.

© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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