Could there have been another way?

MarkMyWords

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Aug 20, 2002
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We recently announced the April schedule adjustments for Tuesdays and Wednesdays and a big part of me thinks that this was a huge knee jerk reaction that wasn''t completely thoughtout. Operationally it is extremely difficult to just wipe away 2 banks of flights in PIT and 1 in CLT without causing a ripple effect througout the system. At minimum you would have crews and airplanes out of position all over the system. This could cause huge problems for crew scheduling as well as maintenance. Suddenly there will be airplanes out of position throughout the system and shorter operating days to recover maintenance routings. This will provide for longer aircraft down times in maintenance stations once they get there, which could be looked at as a positive.

The crew issue will be something totally different. With the April blocks already awarded any reductions or changes to trip pairings will result in pay guarantees for block holders. Reserve crews will be needed to fill in where there are gaps due to crews being out of position, thus depleeting our reserve crews. Since block holders are pay guaranteed, they will not have to pick up additional hours at the end of the month, so we could find ourselves critical on crew availability.

We also run into a problem at the station level too. The work schedules have already been bid and awarded and there is not enough time to re-bid the work schedule. In a station such as Pittsburgh, how do you staff for normal operations on Sun, Mon, Thurs and Fri, and reduced operations on Tues, Wed and Sat? So now you will have agents sitting around from 6p-10/10:30p doing nothing and getting paid for it. Isn''t this a huge decrease in productivity?

My question is, Couldn''t we have tried to handle this situation in a different way? One of the first things that I thought of was to offer additional e-saver type fares for those days. Where a typical e-saver fare has customers traveling out on Sat and returning on Tues or Wed, why not do things a little differently. Why not have Keep America Flying Fares? Offer E-saver type fares on all three days. Allow customers to travel Sat and return Tues/Wed or Sat. Allow them to start travel on Tues and back Wed, Sat or Tues, etc. Offer the fares as we do e-savers but not just in non-stop markets. If we know that there is an abundance of seats out of ORD to PIT and PIT to LGA/ALB/ROC and ORF, then allow the opportunity to for customers to go from ORD to LGA/ALB/ROC and ORF via PIT. Since these fares would only be made available 2-3 days in advance then it should not have a negative effect on future date bookings.

Since many of our DM partners (hotels and rental cars) are probably having similar problems due to the recent travel slump, then they could also offer similar deals through our e-mail type promotions.

Rather then disrupt the entire airline and reduce employee productivity, why not try to market our way through the rough spot and put some revenue in the seats and keep the schedule intact. If we feel the problem will linger on into May then do a schedule change for May PRIOR to crew blocks being awarded and allow stations to try and creatively rework their agent schedules to optimise the employees they have. In the long run, this schedule adjustment could end up costing us more then if we left the schedule intact.

Anyone else hae any ideas on how we could have possibly handled this situation any differently?
 

lindy

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Sep 11, 2002
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Mark, excellent post. From my perspective, it is not a good plan. Another example of how it affects our passengers was taking out GSO flights in the middle of the
GSO Furniture Mart get together. I realize the Marketing and Schedule departments, in CCY, want to believe they know what they are doing. However, in a situation such as this, they should have removed themselves from the equation and let people in OCC develop and execute the plan. For weeks after 9/11, a team of OCC personnel worked diligently to reduce flighs from the schedule, ensuring the least number of passengers to be affected, the number of trip repairs for crews, and the least impact on Mainenance planning.
Marketing and Schedules should stick to what they are designed to do, strategic planning for the airlines. When you have a tactical situation, let the people who do it everyday, OCC.
 

Hope777

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Aug 19, 2002
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Mark, very good points. I also have the feeling that these cuts were not thought out. The last flight into EWR from PIT is now 3:15pm on these days. I hope Res is giving our passengers CO''s phone number so they can get out and back in the same day. The only thing this action is doing is cutting down on Fuel,Landing Fee and Equipment costs. It is doing ZERO for Labor costs!
 
OP
M

MarkMyWords

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Aug 20, 2002
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Lindy,

I couldn''t agree more. The deeper we get into this adjustment the worse it gets. There was total diregard for events like the furniture mart, Easter week, Kentucky Derby, etc.

OCC did do a great job in handeling previous reductions in a more controlled manner. I wish we would have tried a different approach even before canceling or adjusting one flight.
 

firstamendment

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Apr 1, 2003
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Here, here!!!

Great post I''m seeing. Who is not doing their job here? Our sales people should know their territory like the back of their hands. ie. the furniture market in GSO. There doesn''t seem to be the correct "thread" between sales and planning. Let''s see, planes parked, furloughed pilots and f/a. U definitely has the means.

Most importantly, if the airlines want to get people back, they need not look further than jetBlue up in NYC. I was currious as to the prices from JFK and FLL and what I found was not the prices that shocked me, but the simplistic fare structure. There were three difference prices....peak, off peak, and way off peak (late flight). All prices were good and you paid according to what time of the day you were flying. Click the itenerary, pay the fare and you''re set. No fuss, just easy booking. Now then I hopped to U and checked out the price from PHL to Dublin. My God, there were 20 different fares...in economy alone and 3-4 for business..and we only have 1 flight. Too much hassle.

Point? Make it simple and people will fly. Make it cheap and they will fly. Make it simple and cheap, they will be more out to click the purchase key. We can see how that works by the popularity of JB in the New York metro area ;an area of 12 million people, who have plenty of choices.

The internet is there to make it easy. It is still too grueling with majors.


I like the Get America Flying idea. If the airlines are flying half empty airplanes, a low fare is better than NO fare. But until the majors swallow their pride and adopt some of the procedures at the low cost carriers, I feel they will continue to bleed.

It''s time the airlines make their own decisions instead of the wait and see approach.


Any thought?
 

diogenes

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Aug 22, 2002
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Excellent posts, MarkMyWords and lindy!!

The best answer I can come of with, is look at the history.

1. Business Select
2. Project High Ground
3. F-100''s
4. MetroJet
5. etc., etc., ad nauseum.

Some things never change!

And I''ll bet we see some creative rule ''bending'' (featuring us as the ''bendee''s) with work schedules to make sure the employees pay the price for this.
 

PITbull

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Dec 29, 2002
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----------------
On 4/1/2003 1:08:42 PM firstamendment wrote:

I like the Get America Flying idea. If the airlines are flying half empty airplanes, a low fare is better than NO fare. But until the majors swallow their pride and adopt some of the procedures at the low cost carriers, I feel they will continue to bleed.

It's time the airlines make their own decisions instead of the wait and see approach.


Any thought?

----------------​
Keep in mind that having very little fuel hedged can cost loads of cash to fly a plane at much less than full capacity at low fare, in this environment. So, I don't necessarily agree that " flying a plane half full at low fares is better than no fare".
 

usfliboi

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Aug 20, 2002
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I will say this. Not dwfending the team here but.......what airline with new management just pulled off a bk, and came out totally reorganized and lean ? We are holding our own here and in fact ahead of the pact in SURVIVAL, and thats exactly what this industry is having to do. ITs black and white right now, survival of the fittest.Everyone has an opinion and ideas, but youll have to give someone credit where credit is do. The things that failed in the past werent the doings of this management team. Sometimes you just have to let go of the past ........
 

PITbull

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Dec 29, 2002
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Let go of the past....but never forget the past. It helps shape the future.

FYI...They just increased Labor Relations Department AGAIN, by three. One to assist J. Glass. Two more managers to oversee the Restructuring Agreements for pilots and flight attendants. Can someone speak to what the rest of the Directors and managers will be doing? This all went into effect today.

This mangement has a history of promoting and hiring folks after each ratified agreements and emergence from BK when there is infusion of cash. Don''t find that coincidental; but irritating when in light of the fact we are all STILL DECREASING THE "RANK AND FILE"!

Now, they are going after the Local officials of PIT to muscle them into concessions or else.
 

tadjr

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Aug 19, 2002
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Had our first set of "uninformed" passengers on an adjusted flight tonight. They werent too happy. While I agree the plan might have been worked different, overall I''m glad to see someone is thinking of ways to try to decrease the total outflow of funds right now. Only problem is we need better support once the decision was made to insure that those affected know. Not everyone on vacation is aware of what is going on until they get to the airport. Pax was booked on US.com and had a couple of phone contacts in the record, but there was no flifo advisory listed. Someone needs to check and double check that those affected are advised so as to minimize the anger at US for 1st, the schedule adjustment (most pax just think of it as a cancelled flight) and 2nd, not being advised and having to either run to the gate to get a different flight or having to spend the night since there is nothing else to where they are going since it was the evening flights affected. I know its not going to be perfect, but its something that needs to be put on the top of the priority list to minimize damage to the situation.
 

dash8ter

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Aug 20, 2002
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Some flights still appear as operating on the website under the Timetables option, even though they have been removed due to the schedule changes. Watch out if you use the website timetables to find flights to non-rev on!