FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – As the battle rages on between American Airlines and its pilots, the company has issued an apology to its customers regarding “recent operational challenges.”

American Airlines will also voluntarily reduce its schedule for September and October in response to an increase in both sick calls and maintenance reports filed by pilots.

In a statement, the airline said that it will proactively cancel up to two percent of its flights for the next two months to minimize travel disruptions. The carrier said that this action will allow for earlier re-accommodation of passengers and more effective routing of flight crews and planes. The comapny calculates that it has canceled about 300 of its flights for the week of September 17, which is about 1.25 percent of its 24,000 scheduled departures.

A spokesperson for the pilots union told CBS 11 News earlier this week that there is no intentional effort to slow down American Airlines operations. However, pilots have been outspoken about new work rules issued by the airline that include lower pay, cuts to benefits and less sick time.

American Airlines pilots plan to picket at Chicago O’Hare Airport on Thursday afternoon, and the airline estimates that about 300 flights will have to be be canceled this week. The Allied Pilots Association said that it will be an “informational picket.”

“We respect the right of our unions and their members to voice their opinions,” said American Airlines spokesman Bruce Hicks.

Travelers at DFW International Airport on Thursday morning could expect to see anywhere from 10 to 12 canceled American Airlines flights on the departure board at any given time. The airline apologized for the cancellations and delays. “We recognize these adjustments may affect our people and our customers and are taking several proactive steps to minimize any inconvenience,” said Hicks. “We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience to our customers.”

The airline is allowing passengers to fly standby on earlier flights at no extra charge.

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