Many American Airlines flights in December lack scheduled pilots

FILE - This July 17, 2015, file photo shows the tails of four American Airlines passenger planes parked at Miami International Airport, in Miami. On Tuesday, March 14, 2017, American said it will offer free meals to everyone in economy on certain cross-country flights starting May 1, 2017. The decision at the world's biggest airline copies Delta Air Lines, which announced a month earlier that it would restore free meals in economy on a dozen long-haul U.S. routes in spring 2017. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File)

DALLAS (AP) – American Airlines is scrambling to find pilots to operate thousands of flights over the busy Christmas holiday period after a glitch in the 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.

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 it a potential crisis.

American is the world’s biggest airline. It has about 15,000 active pilots and expects to operate more than 200,000 flights in December.

Never miss another Facebook post from 8News

Find 8News on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; send your news tips to iReport8@wric.com.