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DALLAS (AP/CBS) – 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.

“On Friday, management disclosed a failure within the pilot schedule bidding system. As a result, thousands of flights currently do not have pilots assigned to fly them during the upcoming critical holiday period,” the union stated.

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.

“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,” Bloomberg News reports.

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.

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

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