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Virgin's Employee Decision  
User currently offlineVSMike From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 318 posts, RR: 7
Posted (9 years 8 months 1 week 21 hours ago) and read 2364 times:

As we all know, Virgin has laid-off its current customer service employees throughout the USA in favor of sub-contracting these front-line services.

The VAA corporate decision was made to inform the affected employees with 5.5 months notice, effectively giving a very "generous" notice. However, I would now like to continue this discussion by questioning the motive behind VAA's decision, and whether or not it is a good one.
What are the possible ramifications to this action?
How should the employees respond over the next 5 months?
How will VAA's current/future level of customer service change (within the USA)?
Etc...

Thanks for your replies! This is a continuation/replacement of a pervious thread. Can I ask that the LON-based and B6 employees send me a personal e-mail: aviaphotos@gmail.com

VSM


Skyteam. Caring More About Me.
20 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineConcorde001 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 1230 posts, RR: 3
Reply 1, posted (9 years 8 months 1 week 20 hours ago) and read 2327 times:

Could not VS by retaining its staff, carry on providing ground handling for VS as they currently do, but also try provide ground handling to other airlines, to make some money.
For example at LHR, Alitalia (AZ) continues to provide ground handling for themselves, but also for Olympic Airlines, Uzbekistan Airways, Luxair, TAP Air Portugal, and some others.
If VS could do the same in the US, perhaps Virgins' American stations may be able to pay their own way?


User currently offlineKrisair747 From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 237 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (9 years 8 months 1 week 19 hours ago) and read 2175 times:

VSMike,

Where did the old thread go??

Krisair



Open your heart and push the limits
User currently offlineAirfrancejfk From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 480 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (9 years 8 months 1 week 18 hours ago) and read 2093 times:

I don't believe you have to have a dedicated staff to provide excellent customer service. While it does of course have the obvious advantage, there are many more prestigious airlines who sub-contract their services out to other companies. Companies that come to mind include Lufthansa, Emirates, Kuwait Airways etc etc (all whom have Swissport and/or Globeground as their handling agents at JFK). I believe of the foreign carriers operating at JFK, only Air India, British, LAN & Air France have their own dedicated staff. In addition, just because an airline is checked in by a handling agent, does not mean it lacks a dedicated staff. It has been my experience that the major handling companies such as Swissport and Globeground usually have one specific team to handle a specific airline. This team's sole job is working with that particular airline, so they are more geared to fulfill the needs of its passengers.

As Concorde001 said before, VS could have gone the way of servicing other airlines. I remember many years ago, Air France used to do check in for Air Afrique, Uzbekistan, BWIA, Virgin, Servivensa & Transbrasil. I'm not sure how feasible this is now, but it is a possibility.

Nevertheless, it is sad to see the VS agents go. They definately stood out among the other folks here at JFK.


User currently offlineAerofan From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 1517 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (9 years 8 months 1 week 18 hours ago) and read 2070 times:

Yeah, where is the other thread?

User currently offlineVSMike From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 318 posts, RR: 7
Reply 5, posted (9 years 8 months 1 week 15 hours ago) and read 1986 times:

The old thread is gone, sorry. But there were a lot of great comments and ideas presented there, as I hope there will continue to be here.

I have never said there isn't good service to be gained from a subcontractor. I also realize that many airlines go this route, and have always gone the way of subcontracted customer service. For example, Swissport, GlobeGround, Worldwide, etc... are very well-respected (usually?!) around the industry.

I will always make the argument that for ANY business, employee dedication & extreme loyality comes only from within... as it had been for Virgin. In our case, though, subcontracting (in general) is a complete reversal of a 21-year-old business plan (for a 21-year old company) that had helped build Virgin Atlantic Airways into the financially-solvant, globally dominant brand that it now is.
So, I am posing these questions for A.netters:
1. What does the future hold for ATO airline staff if the current trend is to retain non-company employees to act as representatives?
2. What's the rationale behind VS giving its employees 5-months unemployment notice? Is it a good idea?? What are the short-term consequences? How unusual is this in the "real" business world?

It is a pity that the airline business has regressed the way it has over the past few years. There are a million reasons as to why. For the employees that remain loyal to the end, it is simply disheartening. Ask anyone who is directly affected. Ask any soon-to-be Ex-Virgin Atlantic Airways Customer Service Professional.

VSM



Skyteam. Caring More About Me.
User currently offlineRAMPRAT980 From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 600 posts, RR: 3
Reply 6, posted (9 years 8 months 1 week 13 hours ago) and read 1893 times:

At EWR, VS has delta performing the ramp duties for them. Its been like that for a while. Now, from a financial point the companies feel that its cheaper for them to outsource the work rather than deal with salaries, insurance, if there are only one, two or three flights a day. I do feel, though, that an airline should have an employee there at the ticket counter or at the gate in the event that an issue comes up.


With gun control there can be no democracy.. With gun control there can be no Freedom
User currently offlineEA CO AS From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 13766 posts, RR: 61
Reply 7, posted (9 years 8 months 1 week 13 hours ago) and read 1871 times:
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I think the industry in 20 years time will see the following:

Air carriers will have dedicated, inhouse ground staff at their major hubsites only.

All other stations will be outsourced to third-party service suppliers. One or two major companies (like Swissport) will grow into behemoths that eventually serve ALL air carriers - they'll hire people who won't get benefits or travel privileges from the air carrier themselves, and all airlines will buy their 'one size fits all' ATO service packages for customer handling.

Since all carriers will have the same inexperienced, indifferent, turnover-riddled ground employees the only difference in service levels will be onboard, and at the airlines' major hubs - and these are the places where customers will determine how an airline's service stacks up.



"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan
User currently offlineVSMike From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 318 posts, RR: 7
Reply 8, posted (9 years 8 months 1 week 13 hours ago) and read 1866 times:

VS has always had below-wing contract services.
I stand corrected. I should have been clearer: I'm simply talking about above-wing, front-line customer service agents.

VSM



Skyteam. Caring More About Me.
User currently offlineEA CO AS From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 13766 posts, RR: 61
Reply 9, posted (9 years 8 months 1 week 13 hours ago) and read 1837 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

That's what I'm talking about too, though - in 20 years, look for ALL carriers (well, at least U.S. based ones anyway) to subcontract both above-wing frontline customer service and below wing to third-party vendors EXCEPT for their major hubsites.


"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan
User currently offlineVSMike From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 318 posts, RR: 7
Reply 10, posted (9 years 8 months 1 week 12 hours ago) and read 1802 times:

EA CO AS-
Oh yes, you are correct. It would look like this is route most airlines are heading. Indeed, it is just a matter of time until ALL airlines, even US-based brands, will find outsourcing appealing. (I was responding initially to RAMPRAT980).

I've always found the pleathora of US airlines NEED to separate themselves from the masses from the passenger's first point-of-contact, even if that means call center/reservations... but we al know those jobs have already landed firmly in India, along with my Hewlett Packard laptop's helpline... yikes!

VSM



Skyteam. Caring More About Me.
User currently offlineEWRvirgin From United States of America, joined May 2001, 358 posts, RR: 2
Reply 11, posted (9 years 8 months 1 week 11 hours ago) and read 1740 times:

Quoting RAMPRAT980 (Reply 6):
At EWR, VS has delta performing the ramp duties for them. Its been like that for a while. Now, from a financial point the companies feel that its cheaper for them to outsource the work rather than deal with salaries, insurance, if there are only one, two or three flights a day. I do feel, though, that an airline should have an employee there at the ticket counter or at the gate in the event that an issue comes up.

At Newark, Worldwide Flight Services handles the flight rampside with VS staff supervising. Delta lost that contract years ago.


User currently offlineCaptaink From Mexico, joined May 2001, 5109 posts, RR: 12
Reply 12, posted (9 years 8 months 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 1728 times:

Contracted Ground Handling has indeed become really popular indeed. It is cheaper for the airline as well. I am familiar with caribbean aviation and that has been the case. Imagine the ground handlers here, have actually formed or are forming and alliance called Caribbean Airline Handling Association (CAHA) so that they can collectively work with the airlines to negotiate rates, and service, purchase equipment etc.. Servisair has bought one or two local handlers over, so they are expanding their presnce in the region as well. But not all ground handlers do what I think is necessary, and until then I would not be the biggest fan of them. WHEN A PASSENGER WALKS UP THE TICKET COUNTER, THE AIRLINE RESPRESNTED SHOULD BE SEEN, NOT THE GROUND HANDLER DOING THE REPRESENTING.....

I read something to this effect in a magazine, as being what FRAPORT in Germany strives to do..

So VSMIKE.. whats next? Are you done with the airline industry?

P.S. on a side note tommrow is my last day at the airport. I saw and worked my last VS flight today... VS51/52. I am off to school soon, going into the world of science.. BYE BYE AIRPLANES for now.. You will be missed  Smile



There is something special about planes....
User currently offlineLrgt From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 711 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (9 years 8 months 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 1701 times:

How competitive is the ground handling business? Isn't it virtually a monopoly at each airport?

Virgin may find out that this will cost them more...but it does go along with the KISS principal!



Don't bring up the NW DC9's unless you have to!
User currently offlineVSMike From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 318 posts, RR: 7
Reply 14, posted (9 years 8 months 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 1694 times:

Lrgt- KISS hardly applies to real-world applications. Very textbook/military cliche!! Who is it "keeping it simple" for??

Captainl- All the best! Good luck to you! Hope to hear from you again soon!
Aviation is in my blood, so it will be difficult to remove me!

VSM



Skyteam. Caring More About Me.
User currently offlineCaptaink From Mexico, joined May 2001, 5109 posts, RR: 12
Reply 15, posted (9 years 8 months 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 1677 times:

Contracted ground handling, despite their usual monopoly is hardly ever more expensive that hiring your own staff. The airline station managers at the airport I work at, can testify to that..

There are alot of other stresses that comes with having your own staff as well.

But despite the cost this what I think should be the case with airlines. Contract ramp handling to the ground handlers, but leave the clerical staff as direct airline employees, in an effort to encourage brand loyalty and recognition on the part of the employees and passengers alike.

Customer service is very important in the airline business. And when a passenger notices, asks or comments that you don't even work for the airline, they feel like they have been shortchanged and the airline is not really stepping up to the plate. (this is from personal experience) In times of distress they want to see the airline representative.

Additionally, ground handling staff may not defned their airline as well, or try to market the airline as well, since they dont really work for the airline. They have no reason or see no reason to prefer any one airline over the other. I find the ticket counter, baggage services and gates can be an excellent place to market the airline and ensure you get repeat customers...

So..
Clerical Staff - Direct Employees
Ramp Staff - Contracted Ground Handlers



There is something special about planes....
User currently offlineBigOrange From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 2384 posts, RR: 3
Reply 16, posted (9 years 8 months 1 week ago) and read 1530 times:

Quoting Airfrancejfk (Reply 3):
I don't believe you have to have a dedicated staff to provide excellent customer service. While it does of course have the obvious advantage, there are many more prestigious airlines who sub-contract their services out to other companies. Companies that come to mind include Lufthansa, Emirates, Kuwait Airways etc etc (all whom have Swissport and/or Globeground as their handling agents at JFK). I believe of the foreign carriers operating at JFK, only Air India, British, LAN & Air France have their own dedicated staff.

If I ran an airline, there is no way I would use Globeground (especially in the UK), every time I have flown on a carrier using Globeground, their staff have been rude and some complete idiots. In March, I had one Globeground guy tell me I couldn't board the plane yet, because I was in zone 15. My boarding pass showed zone 1, the seat number was 15!

In another instance, we were told we couldn't use the lounge because we were on a staff ticket. We were actually on a prize ticket. Good way to treat prize winners!!


User currently offlineVictorTango From India, joined Jan 2005, 501 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (9 years 8 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 1466 times:

Hey I have actually applied to Virgin. Now I'm wondering if I should take it up if at all I get a call  irked  Thanks for the warning.

Olly


User currently offlineConcorde001 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 1230 posts, RR: 3
Reply 18, posted (9 years 8 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 1418 times:

Quoting VictorTango (Reply 17):
Hey I have actually applied to Virgin. Now I'm wondering if I should take it up if at all I get a call Thanks for the warning.

Olly

Think about it first! Where will you be located if employed?..India?
If its in the United Kingdom, particularly LHR I think it should be fine as LHR is their hub. Even India, I think will be fine, as unlike the US, labour costs are far lower.


User currently offlineVSMike From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 318 posts, RR: 7
Reply 19, posted (9 years 8 months 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 1310 times:

Quoting Concorde001 (Reply 18):
Even India, I think will be fine, as unlike the US, labour costs are far lower.

So true. I just cost too much. Be wary of VS nonetheless. Good luck.



Skyteam. Caring More About Me.
User currently offlineVSMike From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 318 posts, RR: 7
Reply 20, posted (9 years 8 months 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 1293 times:

Quoting Concorde001 (Reply 18):
Even India, I think will be fine, as unlike the US, labour costs are far lower.

... and in the USA we have this saying: You get what you pay for.
 Smile

VSM



Skyteam. Caring More About Me.
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