orfsurfer
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2006 4:02 am

Airport Operations

Thu Feb 16, 2006 4:29 am

I don't want to start a worker war, with my first post, but would like an opinion on airport operations.

Why do airlines have workers stationed at airports? Wouldn't it be easier for each airport to hire workers independent of the airlines, not to include mx, to be gate agents, rampers, baggage handlers etc? This would seem like it would help offset airlines costs. The airport could pay for these workers with a small increase in landing fees. It just seems like one way the airlines can get out from under the strong-arm of the unions.

Once again, I am new, and don't want to cause problems. I would just like some honest opinions.

Have a good day.
 
Grbld
Posts: 349
Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2005 9:25 pm

RE: Airport Operations

Thu Feb 16, 2006 4:38 am

No problems here.

First, the "small" increase in landing fees is quite significant. If you know that an airline that does pretty well may make a profit of a dollar per seat (lots of US airlines wishing they did so!), you can see that small increases can have a big impact.

Second, those charges are mostly direct charges to the airline. They have to hire a handling company to take care of the ground handling stuff. It's not in the taxes.

The advantage of hiring a separate handling company: You can blame someone else and recoup costs if something goes wrong. If there are multiple handling companies, you could start a bidding war and if you're lucky, end up with good fees.

The advantage of doing it in-house: Lower costs (usually) and if you do it well, better results. See Southwest. They can turn around a full 737 in 20 minutes because they do their own handling and every guy, from the pushback driver to the luggage loader, has the same goal: Profits. Hire a different company and they don't give a hoot about your profits, as long as they get paid.

Grbld
 
Boeing7E7
Posts: 5512
Joined: Sat Jul 31, 2004 9:35 pm

RE: Airport Operations

Thu Feb 16, 2006 5:05 am

Quoting Orfsurfer (Thread starter):
Why do airlines have workers stationed at airports? Wouldn't it be easier for each airport to hire workers independent of the airlines, not to include mx, to be gate agents, rampers, baggage handlers etc? This would seem like it would help offset airlines costs. The airport could pay for these workers with a small increase in landing fees. It just seems like one way the airlines can get out from under the strong-arm of the unions.

1. You don't want the airport itself in the business of providing customer service to the airlines. Airports and airlines need to be independent of eachother to avoid influence.

2. There's nothing wrong with the airlines putting together a consortium to operate a common use ticket counter area where you can check in for any airline at any ticket counter then placing passenger assitant agents employed by the airlines on the concourse. I'm fairly certain that this will be common place in the next 10-15 years as airlines work to find ways to cut costs. At a minimum, airline code share partners (ie... SkyTeam, OneWorld, StarAlliance) could consolidate ticket counters and gates at each airport leaving behind the staff for the dominant carrier within the codeshare at each airport. This opens the flexibility to allow global partner flights under one signatory agreement making market entry and exit more cost effective when testing a new route, particularly international routes.
 
b777a340fan
Posts: 651
Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2005 12:42 am

RE: Airport Operations

Thu Feb 16, 2006 5:16 am

Quoting Orfsurfer (Thread starter):
Why do airlines have workers stationed at airports? Wouldn't it be easier for each airport to hire workers independent of the airlines, not to include mx, to be gate agents, rampers, baggage handlers etc? This would seem like it would help offset airlines costs. The airport could pay for these workers with a small increase in landing fees. It just seems like one way the airlines can get out from under the strong-arm of the unions.

Every airline has different standards. In terms of customer service, etc...what an airline deems as acceptable may not be the case for another airline. It would be very hard to find a compromise.

Furthermore, I think it would cost a lot more to airlines if such option is taken. Should an airline the size of UAL, DL, AA, etc. service 300 destinations, for example, then each company will have to deal with the likes of 300 different employee groups. It's much more headache than having one single workforce.

Furthermore, in consideration of a union's influence/strength, I believe that one single union is likely to be formed. That is, employees from all airports will be under one union. Not to say that the gate agents will be coupled with the baggage handlers, but all gate agents will be unionized as will be all baggage handlers. Should they threat a strike, the entire airline industry would be crippled, not a good thought  banghead 

Furthermore, from another cost-efficient standpoint, should airports hire their own personnel, you have to imagine that they would add a premium to their services in order to make profits, however marginal they are. So, I think that may be more expensive.

I've shared my thoughts  Yeah sure
 
nycfuturepilot
Posts: 773
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2003 2:50 am

RE: Airport Operations

Thu Feb 16, 2006 6:23 am

It does make a lot of sense in theory but as we saw in the recent alaska airlines incident, outsourcing often does not result in as good of a product.
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