vsmike
Posts: 279
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Virgin's Employee Decision

Tue Apr 26, 2005 2:50 am

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
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Concorde001
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Virgin's Employee Decision

Tue Apr 26, 2005 3:07 am

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?
 
krisair747
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Virgin's Employee Decision

Tue Apr 26, 2005 4:38 am

VSMike,

Where did the old thread go??

Krisair
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airfrancejfk
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Virgin's Employee Decision

Tue Apr 26, 2005 5:44 am

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.
 
AEROFAN
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RE: VIRGIN'S Employee Decision

Tue Apr 26, 2005 5:47 am

Yeah, where is the other thread?
 
vsmike
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RE: Virgin's Employee Decision

Tue Apr 26, 2005 7:59 am

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
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RAMPRAT980
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RE: Virgin's Employee Decision

Tue Apr 26, 2005 10:20 am

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
 
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EA CO AS
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RE: Virgin's Employee Decision

Tue Apr 26, 2005 10:34 am

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

Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
 
vsmike
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RE: Virgin's Employee Decision

Tue Apr 26, 2005 10:36 am

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
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RE: Virgin's Employee Decision

Tue Apr 26, 2005 10:50 am

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

Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
 
vsmike
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RE: Virgin's Employee Decision

Tue Apr 26, 2005 11:21 am

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
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EWRvirgin
Posts: 348
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RE: Virgin's Employee Decision

Tue Apr 26, 2005 12:39 pm

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.
 
captaink
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RE: Virgin's Employee Decision

Tue Apr 26, 2005 1:06 pm

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....
 
LRGT
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RE: Virgin's Employee Decision

Tue Apr 26, 2005 1:19 pm

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!
 
vsmike
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RE: Virgin's Employee Decision

Tue Apr 26, 2005 1:26 pm

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.
 
captaink
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RE: Virgin's Employee Decision

Tue Apr 26, 2005 1:35 pm

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....
 
BigOrange
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RE: Virgin's Employee Decision

Tue Apr 26, 2005 11:22 pm

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!!
 
VictorTango
Posts: 468
Joined: Sat Jan 08, 2005 10:00 pm

RE: Virgin's Employee Decision

Wed Apr 27, 2005 12:02 am

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
 
Concorde001
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RE: Virgin's Employee Decision

Wed Apr 27, 2005 12:54 am

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.
 
vsmike
Posts: 279
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RE: Virgin's Employee Decision

Wed Apr 27, 2005 3:54 am

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.
 
vsmike
Posts: 279
Joined: Mon Sep 15, 2003 12:40 am

RE: Virgin's Employee Decision

Wed Apr 27, 2005 4:04 am

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.