Move Designed To Improve Baggage Problems, Customer
Since emerging from bankruptcy, Delta Air Lines has committed to
making improvements to woo some lucrative business and
international customers. In that vein, the carrier absorbed about
1,230 Atlantic Southeast Airlines employees this week, in a move
Delta executives say will improved service.
Employees making the move include workers that fuel aircraft,
board passengers and baggage handlers. Delta's ground staff swelled
by 25 percent to about 6,000 employees while ASA's total employment
dropped from about 6,000 to 4,700. Delta also picked up about 400
more daily flights from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International
Airport, about a 70 percent jump.
"There has been a ton of planning for this," said Wayne Aaron,
vice president of Delta Connection. He said he expects increased
on-time performance and fewer lost bags, a problem that has plagued
the Atlanta operation for years, according to the Atlanta
So, how will having more employees make such a big improvement?
Delta says it will provide more employee training and, generally,
better pay. Also coming into play is more flexibility in using
ASA's gates and plane parking areas. These are areas where ground
operations are already performed for other regionals operating
Delta Connection flights.
ASA President Bryan LaBrecque, who heads up the unit for
Utah-based parent SkyWest, predicted a smooth transition because
his former employees will continue on in their current jobs... at
"In some cases these people will be stepping on the same buses
they had... and checking in with the same supervisors they had,"
said LaBrecque. "The customer won't even know the difference."
Improved performance is one of the top goals this year for
Delta, Aaron said. Since the transition Friday, Delta reported 77
percent of ASA's flights and 86 percent of its flights arrived
on-time in Atlanta during the first three days.
"This is the quickest I've gotten my luggage on Delta," said
passenger Hugh Butler, whose suitcases were already on the baggage
claim carousel when he got there.
Another passenger, Keith Dominick, said he had to wait about 15
minutes to pick up his luggage -- but said that was about
"Every week's different," said Dominick, of Atlanta. "Some weeks
are good, and some weeks every flight's late."
William Bogner, a management
sciences professor at Georgia State University's business school
says it makes a lot of sense for Delta to upgrade its feeder
carriers' product, since many of Delta's corporate customers are in
smaller cities, the first and last flights are usually on a
"It's the weak link in the chain," he said. "If that's a lousy
experience, then people are going to find another way out of...
Peoria than Delta."
Delta's on-time ranking has reportedly risen significantly in
recent governmental reports. As ANN reported, the American
Customer Satisfaction Index was created based on the responses to
questions about participants' perception of quality, value and
expectations, overall satisfaction and any intentions to be a
repeat customer. The survey scored from 1 to 100, with 100 the top
score. Delta scored 59 last year.
Mike Boyd, an airline industry consultant who has criticized ASA
in the past over its service, said tighter supervision, better
training and pay under Delta will bring about improvement.
"There's probably dancing in the streets in a lot of communities
around Atlanta," he said. "Delta's management understands customer