Pilot schedules built to incorporate only minimum days off leave no room for recovery when the schedules don’t fly as planned. In May, for example, some 50% of the pilots on some airplanes were assigned schedules built to minimum days off. Any burp in the system (thunderstorms for example) leaves no room for recovery since the pilot is at minimum days off and can’t fly anymore.

There is no feedback loop to the schedule builders from the actual operation. The crew scheduling group responsible for the day-to-day misconnections and cancellations for the real time operation is different than the schedule planning group. The day-to-day group knows that the lack of a pad or buffer doesn’t work, but there is no mechanism built by management to correct this, because any corrections would increase costs.

So the lack of communication and coordination increases misconnects, lowers customer satisfaction, and creates entirely predictable failures in the system. But management would rather pay these unbudgeted costs instead of increasing budgeted costs as required to do things properly. Short-term thinking, long term losses.

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