America West Announces Customer Service Initiatives;Plan Includes Schedule Reductions to Improve Airline's Reliability
PHOENIX, July 27 /PRNewswire/ -- America West Airlines (NYSE: AWA) today announced a series of customer service initiatives directed at improving the airline's reliability and its customers' airport and flying experience. As part of the plan, effective immediately, America West will temporarily reduce its flight schedule to reduce cancellations and improve on-time performance.
"During the past several months we have undertaken a fundamental and comprehensive overhaul of all aspects of our operation to assure that our team and the airline's infrastructure were upgraded to support our strategic expansion and to allow America West to continue to grow and be successful," said Doug Parker, president. "We expected the process to be challenging, but it has taken longer than anticipated and, at many times, been very painful for our customers and employees."
"While our strategic growth plan has benefited travelers by creating price competition and expanding travel opportunities, it has presented a series of challenges for us," added Parker. "As a result, we have not performed to our standards nor met the expectations of our customers. We are confident that the initiatives announced today will improve the reliability of America West Airlines in the very near term, create the flexibility we need to complete the restructuring of our operations and respond to our customers' needs for reliable, on-time, affordable travel."
The specific reliability initiatives announced today include:
-- A reduction in scheduled flying. Beginning immediately, America West
temporarily will reduce the number of scheduled aircraft by four to
provide additional spare aircraft to substitute for others that may not
be available because of maintenance requirements, weather or air
traffic control and to increase access to aircraft for
reliability-related maintenance. The removal of four aircraft from
America West's schedule will reduce the number of daily flights
operated by the airline from 880 to 863, a 3.5 percent decrease in
daily capacity (measured by available seat miles), which should reduce
customer inconvenience during irregular operations.
-- A restructured approach to America West's existing line maintenance
operation, including increased staffing, parts provisioning, automation
and support. This initiative has two key features. First, a new team
will focus on the prompt return to service of aircraft that require
unexpected or unplanned reliability-related maintenance. Second,
the planning, engineering support and resources available for America
West's overnight maintenance operation (the work period when most of
the routine maintenance is performed on the airline's fleet) will be
increased. Providing improved organization and greater resources to
support the line maintenance operation should reduce flight
cancellations and delays.
-- Increasing America West's capacity to perform preventative and
reliability-related maintenance. America West temporarily will add
two additional aircraft maintenance lines to increase the efficiency of
performance of preventative and regularly scheduled maintenance. One
of the two operations will be located in America West's facilities in
Columbus, Ohio and will focus on reliability-related maintenance for
the airline's Airbus fleet. The other will perform similar work on the
Boeing 737 fleet at a location to be determined within the next few
-- The use of new automation to optimize the provisioning of spare parts
and components. America West maintains an inventory of more than
200 million of spare parts. Improved automation now being installed
should assure more efficient and effective deployment of the airline's
spares inventory throughout America West's system of six maintenance
bases and eleven other maintenance locations, consequently reducing
cancellations and delays.
-- An increase in ramp personnel in Phoenix and Las Vegas. The wage and
benefit programs included in the collective bargaining agreement
reached this spring with America West's fleet service employees have
begun to reduce turnover among this important work group and have
facilitated an aggressive recruiting campaign. America West expects to
increase its ramp force staffing by 20 percent in the immediate future.
Increasing staffing levels on the ramp should reduce ground delays and
significantly improve America West's baggage handling.
-- Implementation of a program to increase the efficiency of America
West's hub operation at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. This
comprehensive effort includes 36 separate initiatives all focused on
reducing ground time and, therefore, delays of aircraft transitioning
In addition to the operational reliability improvements, America West is implementing a number of other important initiatives designed to improve customer satisfaction including:
-- Enhancements in automation of the passenger re-accommodation process,
as well as the addition of personnel and ticket counter space at
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Las Vegas McCarran
International Airport to reduce the time spent processing changes to
passenger itineraries in the event of cancellations or delays.
-- Increased focus on America West's Customers First service plan. The
company has deployed a new team with exclusive responsibilities to
develop innovative approaches to Customers First initiatives and ensure
that the airline is exceeding its twelve commitments under this
-- The creation of a new officer position, Vice President - Customers. In
addition to overseeing America West's Customers First program and
customer relations functions, Joette Schmidt, vice president,
customers, has become the advocate on behalf of the airline's customers
on the airline's senior management team and for all strategic decisions
made by the company.
-- Reducing the average level to which flights are booked beyond capacity
by 10 percent to allow the airline to more effectively manage
inventories and reduce denied boardings while these new initiatives are
"We expect these initiatives to have a very positive near term effect on the airline's reliability and customer service," said Parker. "While we will continue to face operational challenges outside of our control, including air traffic control and weather delays, by organizing our flying to be more consistent with the capacity of our operation we should improve customer confidence and reduce the pressure of irregular operations on our employees. We are committed to maintaining our industry leading safety record, to solving our airline's reliability problems, to delivering a product in which our employees can take pride and that will earn back our customers' loyalty, and to continuing America West's growth -- and to delivering the benefits of that growth to our customers, employees and shareholders."
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Securities Litigation Reform Act that involve risks and uncertainties, including competitive practices in the industry, relationships with employees, the impact of industry regulation and other factors described from time to time in the company's publicly available SEC reports, which could cause actual results to differ materially.
America West Airlines, the nation's ninth-largest carrier, serves 88 destinations with more than 860 daily departures in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Along with its codeshare partners, America West serves more than 100 destinations worldwide. America West Airlines is a wholly owned subsidiary of America West Holdings Corporation, an aviation and travel services company with 1999 sales of $2.2 billion.
This press release, as well as releases issued in the past year by America West Holdings and its affiliates, can be accessed on the America West Internet site at www.americawest.com.
SOURCE America West Airlines
CO: America West Holdings Corporation; America West Airlines
IN: AIR LEI
07/27/2000 14:17 EDT http://www.prnewswire.com