IT IS a challenge for many organisations when too many employees request time off around the Christmas period. But it is a headache for a lot more than just company staff when this happens at airlines. In September, Ryanair had to announce the cancellation of more than 20,000 flights after it messed up its system for allocating pilots’ leave. Due to regulatory changes, the airline changed its holiday schedule from the calendar year to April to December, and then persuaded pilots to take fewer days off during the peak travel season in the summer. The result was that far too many pilots requested time off between September to December, forcing the airline to scrap 20,000 flights and angering hundreds of thousands of customers who had booked tickets.

A one-time goof? Not quite. On November 29th, a similar embarrassment struck American...Continue reading