It Takes People To Run An Airline

Airline employment is continuing to climb slowly as the industry’s recovery limps along. The always interesting Bureau of Transportation Statistics recently reported that U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 2.3 percent more workers in June than they did a year earlier.

What’s really interesting is how the level of employment growth – or loss – at each airline seems to correlate with the quality of its service, or at least the public perception of it.

At Northwest, plagued by late-month cancellations that infuriated customers this summer, employment was down 4.4 percent in June. Northwest has since recalled hundreds of pilots and announced plans to hire hundreds more.

At United, where customer service complaints grew bitter earlier in the summer, employment was down 2.6 percent. United is hiring more pilots, but has described it as part of an expansion initiative, not an effort to improve service.

American Airline’s employment was down very slightly, but the other major carriers were up. Almost all the the low-cost carriers, including Southwest, increased employment.

It’s true that their customers aren’t eactly dancing in the aisles. But one certainly has the impression that the airlines reporting increases in employment are keeping their customers at least a little happier.

And that makes sense. It takes people to keep customers happy. In any business.


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